This Christmas may be a Christmas of change. I was listening to “You and Yours”, Radio 4’s consumer programme and they were discussing, as consumer programmes do, spending on line and on the high street in the run up to Christmas. Consumer spending was down fairly dramatically on previous years, clothes retailers particularly were feeling the pinch and offering huge discounts that still weren’t inspiring people to buy. This was quite a news item in and of itself but there was something more interesting. The Vox Pop interviews on the street were filled with people who had one message, they were fed up with buying and owning and giving “stuff” and wanted this Christmas to be about time with family and friends just enjoying each other.
Any adult will tell you, Christmas can be a very stressful time of year. There is a lot of expectation built into Christmas around the meal being “right” and the gifts being “right” and a whole load of other pressures that we put on ourselves. Even if you are a Christian you are not immune to this.
This Christmas may be a Christmas of change. If those street interviews are representative of the nation as a whole (and of course there is no reason they should be, they are just a snapshot) then I cannot help but feel this is a good thing. As Christians we are called to make disciples. Making disciples isn’t the same as leading someone to Christ, although sometimes the two are conflated. Discipleship requires a commitment, to community, to friendship, to journey with someone in their life. If this is becoming a world where people are seeking something more meaningful than a life of consumerism then our job as Christians has become easier in some ways. We have Good News, all we have to do is learn to tell it in a way that leads with love. In Christmas we have the vision of a God who loves us so much He is willing to be born into the potential for hardship, suffering and death of human life. In Easter we see a God who loves us so much He was willing to die for us. Just because He wants to be with us. That’s the world we are looking to introduce people to. That’s what every Christian agrees on. That’s the core of our world. That’s what we’re offering the world.
This Christmas may be a Christmas of change, a change we can be part of. All we have to do is recognise the opportunity and whether it’s a family member, a friend, a work colleague or a complete stranger who’s looking to find something more this Christmas, something intangible, take that opportunity to talk and share the good news. Because if people are looking, they will be willing to listen and we can offer something that stands head and shoulders above everything else, a God who loves us all.
Wishing you all a blessed and happy New Year.