Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-20, John 1:1-3, 14, Philippians 2:5-11

Mike Davies considers the real meaning of Christmas.

Mike Davies
Mike Davies

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort".

These are the opening words to Tolkien's The Hobbit. It's a book read by many over the years and now embedded in history through the cinema production by MGM, and brought to life by actors such as Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, and Richard Armitage.

But, what if they were the only words we had and we had to imagine the rest? None of us would probably have come up with anything as imaginative and descriptive as Tolkien.

Last year, I was telephoned by one of our local newspapers asking if I would like to write an article about 'The Christmas Story'. They thought it would be appropriate in their Christmas edition to have something focused on Christmas.

I explained to the Editor that although I fully understood what she meant by 'The Christmas Story' that the actual story starts in the book of Genesis and ends in Revelation. It was like me starting with the opening words of The Hobbit and asking people to think up the rest.

In this day and age did we all know why Jesus was born, why His mother was a virgin and why He was born of the line of David?

I think the Editor may have wondered, although she never said, if it might have been better if she had phoned somebody else. In the end they printed a nice article about Christmas only being part of the story.

But what is Christmas all about in 2015?

Many of you may remember Charlie Brown, from the comic strip Peanuts. I remember it well. As a young child I would usually watch the TV late on a Saturday afternoon, sometime around the football results, and follow the antics of Charlie Brown, Peanuts, and the rest of the gang. In one of the episodes Charlie was in conversation with his good friend Linus:

"I guess you were right, Linus. I shouldn't have picked this little tree. Everything I do turns into a disaster. I guess I really don't know what Christmas is all about. Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?"

Well, it's that time of year again. A time when the television, radio and all the shops play Christmas songs and the spotlight is on all the joys of Christmas. But what is the real meaning of Christmas? Is it the gifts under the tree, the Christmas lights, or houses lit up with rope lights and snowmen? Is it about trying to ensure you haven't forgotten anyone from the Christmas card list, or the turkey, Brussels sprouts, the traditional hanging of stockings, or drinks with the neighbours? Maybe it's the dedicated family time, or time with neighbours and close friends? Well, in some respects it is, but is this Christmas?

There is a poem written by Brian K Waters entitled, 'The True Meaning of Christmas' in which he writes:

Amidst the tinsel, glitter
And ribbons of gold,
We forget about the child,
born on a night so cold.

During the seventeenth century, as now, Christmas was one of the most exciting times of the year. It was an important holiday season. During the twelve days of a Christmas, churches and other buildings were decorated with rosemary and bays, holly and ivy; Christmas Day church services were widely attended, gifts were exchanged and Christmas boxes were distributed to servants and the poor. Roast beef, plum-pudding, minced pies and special Christmas ale were consumed. There was dancing and singing. Parties often led to over consumption of alcohol and promiscuity.