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Today is the beginning of Advent – the time for Christian folk to await Christ, and the time for the secular world to await Santa.
The song about Santa goes like this: ‘He’s making a list and checking it twice, going to find out if you’ve been naughty or nice, Santa Claus is coming to town.’
How often we hear fractious children being warned by irritated parents that Santa won’t bring anything if they don’t behave.
Contrast Jesus’ message of unconditional love. He is not sitting with a tick list to see if we are worthy to receive this greatest gift of all. The carol tells us that love came down at Christmas – a love that was for everyone, not just a well-behaved few.
This message gets lost in the frenzy of shopping and preparing, spending and rushing, and the real meaning of Christmas is often bypassed altogether.
It’s time to bring out the nativity set and get Jesus out of his box.
Time to set out Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and the angels, the cattle and the ox, and, of course, the crib.
Has Jesus been in his box since last Christmas?
Can we cope with the baby Jesus as he’s not challenging or threatening, just very sweet?
But what about the man Jesus? What about his radical message of love to all people, of equality, of peace.
What of his message about giving what we have to the poor, of loving our enemies, of giving power to the powerless, of taking a stand against injustice, of making peace instead of preparing for war?
Probably best put him back in his box after Christmas before he grows up and finds his voice.