Christmas Favourites

What heralds the start of Christmas?

Definitely not the relentless advertising, which starts earlier each year.  I pitied the staff of my Tescos Express a year or so ago when Christmas songs were playing constantly from November! 

One member of staff told me by the time Christmas came, they were sick of the music.  Understandably so I think.  I started writing this on 12th December. Tescos haven’t started the music yet.  I’ve been told there will be some just for the few days leading up to Christmas.  If only everyone would do that with the advertising…

Black Friday goes against the spirit of Christmas I feel.  Image via Pixabay.
For me, Christmas begins with the singing of the first carol (usually Oh Come, Oh Come Immanuel), the first sighting of a Salvation Army band (this time I spotted them at Waterloo Station on my return from my publisher’s celebration event), and discovering it is time, once again, to resist eating mince pies for as long as possible!  Those get put out on the shelves earlier each year too.  Has anyone else spotted the anomaly of Christmas food having a use-by date long before the 25th?

These will be welcome after my church's carol singing event.  Image via Pixabay.
My favourite Christmas event is our church’s sing-along where we sing from the Bethlehem Carol Sheet.  The church used to go out around the village to sing but now the village comes to us and the event is followed by coffee, tea and mince pies.  There are Christmas cracker jokes in between the carols.  Is it me or is Ding Dong Merrily On High less of a carol but more of a challenge, especially if you are asthmatic as I am?!  Someone always chooses it…

Tip:  Drink well before going to an event like this.  You do appreciate the tea and coffee later.

Refreshments after the singing always go down well.  Image via Pixabay.
This is one advert I do appreciate.  Image via Pixabay.
The “official” Carols by Candlelight services at our church and the “mother” church in Romsey are also lovely and probably my favourite services of the year.  I am thankful I am not responsible for putting all the candles out though. 

Christmas candles... well just a few of them.  Image via Pixabay.
Why are these services my favourite?  It is because the Christmas story is a lovely one - as long as you leave Herod out.  Ironically, the Herod angle does make Christmas more realistic.  There have always been those prepared to murder to secure their own position, and while I understand the children’s services NOT mentioning this, the rest of us should reflect on it and that our fellow Christians still suffer for their faith. 
Two favourite carols here.  Image via Pixabay
I find it incredible freedom of religious belief is not a given in the 21st Century.  It brings home though how “on the nail” Christianity is with its emphasis on our sinfulness and the need to be redeemed, which, of course, is the point of the Nativity.  Jesus did not stay a baby.  We cannot be saved by a baby.  But without that birth in the stable, there would be no growing to adulthood, ministry, Calvary or resurrection.

What Christmas is really about.  Image via Pixabay.
So is Christmas special?  Of course - but not for the reasons the advertisers think!

May you know God's presence and peace at Christmas and throughout 2018.  Image via Pixabay.


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