What are the big questions that are being asked in households or ‘bubbles’ up and down our country?
How are we going to celebrate Christmas this year?
How are we able to enjoy Christmas whilst staying safe and protecting our vulnerable loved ones?
How are we able to mix households whilst ensuring that we don’t become ‘spreaders’ of the Covid 19 virus?
This year, there were fears that Christmas would be ‘banned’, and although regulations are not as extreme as many feared, we have been advised that “Christmas is the season to be jolly … careful!” However, over the years this season has been ‘celebrated’ in many different ways.
It wasn’t until the 4th century when Pope Julius, during the reign of Emperor Constantine, declared that 25th December was to be first recognised as the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Pope Julius held a simple Communion service. From that small beginning, it took several centuries before the festival of Christmas was universally embraced in Christian countries.
But, as we have heard a lot about recently, it was a faction of Christianity, the Puritans in the 17th century under Oliver Cromwell who first ‘banned’ Christmas, or at least tried to curtail the revelry that accompanied the Christian festival in Britain. This was followed up by Puritans in America when between 1659 and 1681 you could be fined for eating so much as a mince pie!
Since that time not even the horrors of the trenches during WW1 or hostilities of war in WW2 could stop a time of peace and goodwill spontaneously breaking out on the frontline and leading to stories of exchange of gifts and football matches between opposition troops.
Until 2020, and the threat of the spread of Covid 19 through mixing of households and unregulated gatherings of people in confined spaces. However not even a global pandemic – though it has brought about fear, anxiety, sadness and desperation to many – can snuff out the true Christmas celebrations.
For Christmas is a time when Christians celebrate God’s great love for our world when he sent Jesus to be the Saviour of all mankind. So how are we are going to celebrate Christmas this year? Like we do every year by giving thanks for the birth of a baby and at St Saviour’s that will be similar to the way that Pope Julius first celebrated Christmas – with a simple service, including a service of Holy Communion.
So may the joy of the angels,
The gladness of the shepherds,
The worship of the wise men
And the peace of the Christ child be yours,
This Christmas and for evermore.
God bless you all and very merry Christmas.
Andy and Mel McPherson