Sunday, December 24, 2006

Children's Christmas

Christmas is really
for the children.
Especially for children
who like animals, stable,
stars and babies wrapped
in swaddling clothes.
Then there are wise men,
kings in fine robes,
humble shepherds and a
hint of rich perfume.

Steve Turner's poem tell it all. We Christians would like to strip off the commercialism, the adverts telling us about Christmas food, special because they're M&S nauseatingly-rich, atheroma-inducing, mince pies; or Noddy Holder repeating incessantly, "But here it is, Merry Christmas, everybody's having fun"; or Business Report inviting us to shop harder because the retailers are missing out on their bonuses; or cheeky young kids who ring your doorbell and sing one chorus of Jingle Bells and expect to be tipped as carol singers, and when asked to sing a proper carol, can just manage, "Away in a manger la, la, la, la, la." before drying up. We could all do without the drunken parties and the parade of broken Nissans, Toyotas and young men left in their wake.

For most of us it takes us back to childhood. Christmas trees and fairy lights, dads dressed up like Santa, carols by candlelight, boys who want to be Joseph and girls who want to be Mary but both settling for third shepherd, Little Donkey and Little Drummer Boy. And babies.

I'm all for the sentiment, but it can mask what it's all about just as much as the commercialism.

The second stanza of Steve Turner's poem explains.

Easter is not really
for the children
unless accompanied by a
cream filled egg.
It has whips, blood, nails,
a spear and allegations
of body snatching.
It involves politics, God
and the sins of the world.
It is not good for people
of a nervous disposition.
They would do better to
think on rabbits, chicken
and the first snowdrop
of spring.
Or they'd do better to
wait for a re-run of
Christmas without asking
too many questions about
what Jesus did when he grew up
or whether there's any connection.

Everybody likes a baby, but let's not get mawkish. This baby came for a definite purpose; he came specifically to die. "But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law." (Galatians 4:4-5). Most of the Christmas hymns that we sing duck the issue except perhaps:

Who is he in yonder stall
At whose feet the shepherds fall?

Who is he to whom they bring
All their sick and sorrowing?

Who is he who stands and weeps
At the grave where Laz'rus sleeps?

Who is he on yonder tree
Dies in grief and agony?

Who is he who from the grave
Comes to rescue, help and save?

Who is he who from his throne
Comes to make the world his own?

'Tis the Lord! O wondrous story!
'Tis the Lord, the king of glory!
At his feet we humbly fall.
Crown him! Crown him Lord of all!

That's why this baby deserves such a welcome. That's why we give gifts at Christmas - to commemorate God's indescribable gift to us (2 Corinthians 10:15).

No comments: