December 2015

A True Christmas

I was flicking through the programmes on the TV at the start of November. It wasn’t that long ago that there were only 5 channels (and for those with longer memories, even fewer). But now it seems that every month or so a new channel appears. To be honest, it seems to me that most of the channels are quite forgettable, and the cry ‘there’s nothing on TV’ is as frequent with about 100 channels as it was with 5.

However, in my flicking through with the remote I came across ‘True Christmas’. This channel has wall to wall Christmas stories. They are almost exclusive American ‘seasonal dramas’, and somewhere within the last 5 minutes of each film the protagonists usual discover the true meaning of Christmas.

I was amazed. Almost 2 months to go to Christmas and I could watch updated retellings of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and numerous made-for-TV Christmas family entertainment/romance films, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Christmas heaven. The advertisers were also in heaven as they could flog their Christmas stock early.

And meanwhile in the first chapter of Luke’s gospel, we find an old women and a young teenager both discovering that they are pregnant. One woman, who is ‘past it’, gives birth to a boy we learn later in life will be called John the Baptist. The other, isn’t even a woman yet, gives birth to a boy that was called Jesus who later in life will be called the Son of God.

Both the womens' lives where changed. Elizabeth and Mary were never the same again. But rather than resolving the situation in the last 5 minutes of the final reel, the story of the birth of John and Jesus raises far more questions than they answer. There is no sitting around an over-decorated Christmas tree, with contented faces after the over-indulgent Christmas meal. This is the prelude. It’s the start. There is misunderstanding and disagreement. There is confusion and protest. And there is death.

And the world is turned upside down.

We normally talk about the true meaning of Christmas as ‘it’s all about the family’, or ‘it’s all for the children’. Actually it’s all about life being turned upside down. But that story doesn’t get told in the seasonal dramas.

And dare I wish you a true Christmas?


December 2015