Outlook Issue 18 Winter 2014
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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Don’t lose the light!
Don’t lose the light! Christmas comes but once a year … And when it comes it brings good cheer. Sadly, these days, many shudder! The essence of Christmas and its one-time simplicity is engulfed by an increasingly frenetic commercialism. For some, Christmas represents a yearly hurdle to overcome, not a beautiful and deeply meaningful celebration. The next few weeks before Christmas seem a good time to pause and ponder upon its true meaning, before the inevitable bluster and bustle begins. I offer some thinking fodder. Each year much is written and spoken about all manner of Christmas topics: Turkeys, Togetherness, Commercialism, Greed, Goodwill – and sometimes even Christ! These days, seasonal political correctness must be observed, and in some areas ‘Winterval’ replaces ‘Christmastide’. Nativity plays are under threat: Health and Safety can now obtrude and at times seem out of proportion, spoiling artistic atmosphere and scenic effect. Is the small pile of straw in the manger really a fire hazard! Are we even allowed to call the time-honoured doll Jesus? Christmas is about celebrating and strengthening our Christian faith, not marginalising it, not watering it down. We must always be mindful that central to the whole Christmas business is still the holy child born for us in humble circumstances – a child who will struggle to survive victimisation, celebrity status, and a cruel death. And there will be children born today, tomorrow or this Christmas Day, for whom there will be no room in the inn; for whom life will be a challenge of survival; for whom the outlook is bleak. How will we react, this Christmas? Will we hasten to the manger like the shepherds, or dawdle – or not even visit at all? Do we feel excitement to hear the Christmas message? Or has it all become simply ‘old hat’? Has the mystery been lost in the razzmatazz? I suggest we quicken our step towards the manger. To admire and emulate the inner resolve and strength of Mary. To admire and emulate the total reliability and loyalty of Joseph. To wonder at the radiance and hope that a baby brought to us all. AND … we should tell the story! Our world hardly ends 2014 on a creditable note. Many will face the Christmas season with empty bellies, aching hearts, woeful expectations, bereft of loved ones. World Peace is a distant mirage. I hope (again) that Christmas 2014 will herald less talk and tinsel, fewer failed good intentions, and more resolution and urgency. Let us rediscover the mystery submerged by the magic, and resolve to be better versions of ourselves. We could try to ensure that 2015 is a year of greater peace and progress for all. Shalom! When it finally arrives, I do wish you A Very Happy Christmas! Michael Booth