she speaks/he speaks: preparing for Christmas

By Sam Gibb | 23 November 2011 | Comments (1)

mythoughtsmindmaps - Christmas 2009

Debbie:

As a mother of four girls I used to look forward to Christmas the same way my mother - also of four children - did: with doom and gloom. Rather than a glorious celebration of family, feasting and fun, all I looked forward to was the endless lists to tick off, novel presents to buy for my ever-growing family and innumerable God-children. Cards, presents, food preparation, decorating the house, let alone fitting in nativity plays, Christmas concerts and church prayer evenings. When did I ever turn into such a scrooge and such a kill joy? It all had something to do with setting my sights on perfection. The perfect day, present, outfit, family gathering, the perfect meal, - oh and let’s not forget the perfect homemade Christmas card. My pursuit of perfection of course never quite happened, and each year I vowed I would start earlier, plan better, buy a bigger freezer perhaps. I had become a slave to the ‘perfect Christmas’.

Last year that all changed. A friend’s husband suffered a critical life changing stroke in early December and it turned their family life upside down: Christmas was put on hold and suddenly the real priorities in life appeared. I was caught up short! I couldn’t believe how my relentless pursuit for a perfect Christmas had so subtlety enslaved me and how I had become so ‘way off the mark’.

Where was my perfection and planning in that nativity scene? Mary and Joseph were refugees, Jesus was born in an animal shed as no hotel room had been booked - there was no forward planning for them! But in all of this God’s glorious generosity was on display, his outpouring love showered upon us, breaking into our world in the form of a helpless babe. It was if the scales fell from my eyes, and instead of looking inwards, I now look outwards and upwards. I still have my lists (I can’t completely abandon to a free-wheeling existence, but perhaps I’ll be persuaded by Advent Conspiracy this year) but now my eyes and my heart are fixed on Christ – God made flesh. That jaw-dropping, miraculous event has become the centre of my preparations and the centre of our Christmas.

Sam:

Perhaps it is when you hear ‘Slade’ blasting out across the supermarket floor, or when you first pull on that maroon coloured turtle neck sweater. Maybe it is when the Z-list celebrity ('He starred in Doctor Who, he was the guy on the left in the mask, oh, and he was once in Paddington Green, do you remember?’) arrives to switch on the village lights. Maybe it’s when you finally get the tree up and the tinsel on, dreading the following six months of hoovering up pine needles from behind the sofa. Perhaps only Marmite causes as great a war of opinions as the question of when the Christmas season actually begins. ‘Far too soon’, you scrooges out there cry; ‘Not soon enough!’ reply the romantics who have been wearing knitted Rudolf socks since mid-August.

For me, however, Christmas begins when the adverts kick in. No longer is it acceptable to simply add a cheesy Christmas hit to a standard advert in order to sell your Christmas stock, no, it seems inherent now that a Christmas advert must get Mike Tyson reaching for the Kleenex. And when I saw the John Lewis Christmas advert the other week I was suitably impressed. I had heard rumours of grown men reduced to tears in front of their television screens (something unheard of outside of relegation battles, F.A Cup Finals and the odd episode of the X-factor) and it did not disappoint. The advert ends with the tag line ‘For gifts you can’t wait to give’. Ultimate cheese you may say, and you probably have a point, but the adverts message has an echo of something a Nazarene bloke said over 2000 years ago; ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’. This guy was counter-cultural; he turned the world upside-down, everyday thinking turned on its head. Like the advert, with Jesus the ‘ending’ was not what the beginning might have suggested. A new King born ends up dead on a cross, the ultimate sacrifice; the ultimate gift.

Christmas is about generosity; not my generosity, nor yours (and definitely not that of the fat bearded man in the red coat), but the generosity of our God, who sent his only son into our broken world to pay the ultimate price for our sin. Generosity that was not changed despite the full knowledge that his son would be ridiculed and abandoned and the gift would go unappreciated by millions. If that isn’t enough to encourage us to be generous this Christmas then what is?

 

Debbie Wright is Head of Content at Stewardship. Sam Gibb is our guest author this month: click here to see his bio.

Posted by Sam Gibb

Sam Gibb is a twenty-something whose passion is to present the message and teachings of Jesus to lads in a way that makes sense to them. He writes a regular column in Sorted Men’s Magazine and works for All Souls, Langham Place in London. Sam is also a Stewardship recipient!

comments:

David Anderson

November 28, 2011 8:34 PM
Brilliant thought provoking blogs leading our hearts to the "one who loved us and gave humself for us. May we all see him with a fresh vision and love this Christmas

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