‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’ Luke 2:14
Over recent weeks we have been bombarded with Christmas themed advertisements on radio, television and newspapers and the majority of stores have been bedecked with Christmas decorations since before Halloween. On top of this, the background music everywhere includes such classics as ‘I’m dreaming of a white Christmas’, ‘jingle bells’, ‘Rudolf the red nosed reindeer’ and ‘Driving home for Christmas’ – and it is not even December yet! At an intellectual level, it is all a commercial ruse to get people to spend more by generating that sense of urgency that makes them feel they need to do so. And unfortunately it is a ruse that obviously works. Shopping centres are packed, traffic jams are widespread and popular retail outlets such as Dundrum Town Centre, The Park Carrickmines and Kildare Village outlet are all causing evening and weekend tailbacks onto the motorways that serve them. It seems that everyone wants to be part of the mayhem and excitement.
But why? What is it about Christmas that gets so many to lose the run of themselves? To me it is sad that it would appear that it has little or nothing to do with the actual Christmas story – the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. Of course, some would argue that the excitement is around the seasonal tradition of giving and receiving gi:s to mark God’s greatest gift to humankind of his only Son to be our Saviour. However, the spirit in which our traditional exchange of gifts is undertaken is very conditional – we give in the expectation of receiving. When God gave his only Son, it was a free gift for everyone and all he expects in return is that we gratefully receive it. This Christmas, what will be your response to God’s gift?
Christmas is also a traditional time for family gatherings. These can be happy occasions as they provide the opportunity for families who rarely get together to do so against a joyful backdrop. However, for many, such events are tinged with sadness due to the passing of a loved one. For others, there may be a rift in family relationships and such gatherings are extremely tedious and stressful. For some, it is a lonely time as they find themselves on their own with no close family support – this group also includes refugees and immigrants. For yet others, it is a very busy time as they man emergency services and staff such facilities as hospital and residential care homes. For a few, especially those who are homeless, sleeping rough and/or have dependency issues it is a time of dread and they cannot wait un$l the normality of the New Year to return. As we prepare to celebrate this Christmas, let us always be mindful of those less fortunate than ourselves.
May I take this opportunity on behalf on my family and myself to wish parishioners, families and friends a very Happy, Holy and Peaceful Christmas and a Blessed and Prosperous New Year.
With every blessing,
Rev’d John Tanner, The Rectory, Brighton Road, Carrickmines, Dublin 18.
Tel: 01-289 3154 / 086 302 1376