At the churches I work in, this year during the carol services, we’ve been thinking about what Christmas means to us. The clergy and readers have spent a few minutes talking about what Christmas means to them, and after much thought, I came up with this.
As it’s my second Christmas ordained, to be honest, my initial thoughts about ‘what Christmas means to me’ were about drinking enough coffee to get everything done, as well as consuming the occasional large G&T to chill out when enough things are ticked off the To Do list! I thought about the all-consuming craziness of the season, with barely a moment to spare, leading people in worship as they take time to pause and reflect on what Christmas means to them. I thought about school assemblies, sermons, visiting parishoners, home communions and choosing carols, as well as the normal non-church things like present buying, card wrapping, people visiting, food preparing and house decorating.
But then I cast my mind back to less manic Christmas times, and I thought about Christmas as a child.
When I was a little girl, the best bit about Christmas for me, even more so than the delicious food and the parties, the sparkly dresses and the coca cola ad, was: the arrival of Granny & Grandpa on Christmas Eve.
The wait for these fabulous people to arrive was agonising!
We lived 100 miles away from them, and when they arrived it meant that Christmas had officially come.
Outside our house, there was a drive which could fit 2 cars on, and then there was a patch of grass where an over-flow car could park.
One infamous year, when Granny and Grandpa arrived, over the Christmas weekend, their car sunk into this patch of grass because of the weight of the presents in the boot!
But when all had been unloaded, we would head out to the crib service at church: a real highlight of Christmas for me. Each child would bring a toy to church and we would carry them around the inside of the building. We went on a journey to the stable at the front, collecting figures of angels, shepherds, wise men, Mary, Joseph and the donkey along the way.
So with all this talk of journeys, and travel and guests and angels and shepherds and wise men, I have been thinking. To me, Christmas means: movement.
There’s the memory of the movement of my Grandparents across the pennines from their house to ours. There’s the movement of the children throughout my favourite church service. There’s the movement of other friends and family over the Christmas season.
In the Bible, there’s the movement of Mary & Joseph to Bethlehem and there’s the movement of the shepherds. Once the angels disappeared, the shepherds said to each other ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place’. There’s also the movement of the magi: they followed the star to Bethlehem.
And there’s the movement of God. He himself moved from heaven and came to earth for us, and this is what we celebrate at Christmas.
When Jesus was born, God was on the move. He moved heaven and earth to be with us, because he loves us.
At Christmas time, there is, celebration, love and movement. All sorts of movement, but above all, the movement of God.
This Christmas, lets try to take the time to move closer to God, so that we are ready for him to move in our lives too.