Keep your trees, stockings, fat bearded men and turkeys... parties are the way forward my friends, and also one of the most appropriate responses to Christmas we can have.
I went to a Great Gatsby themed Christmas party thrown by the students in a local church in Bath last week, to end the term in style for their community and their uni mates. It’s the first time on the #fusionroadtrip I’ve had to don and dress and strings of pearls to speak, but meeting a bunch of first years who’d come along with their housemate, having never been to church before, made it automatically worth it.
I had a five minute slot to mention something of “the real meaning of Christmas” in amongst mocktails and karaoke, and it was during this party scene that I realised, in this case I don’t think we’d succumbed to consumer Christmas. I think the party actually hit closer to the right response to the real meaning of Christmas than almost anything else.
Christmas... Christ-mass... the coming together of God, the gathering together of God’s presence in Jesus, into our time and space and world, is a moment and act worth celebrating. Christmas trees are a German tradition that Queen Victoria took a shine to, Santa may loosely be based on Saint Nicolas who may have given out gifts now and again, but he’s only red because Coca-cola made him so. Turkey dinners are nice but I don’t remember the Bible mentioning a festive menu and advent has been made a window-opening chocolate treat experience. Most of what makes up our Western Christmases doesn’t make any sense when the word Christ-mass is translated correctly.
Except a party. Christ-mass, the gathering together of God on earth, and the coming together of the people of God in the name of Jesus, should be a cause to celebrate. The opportunity of December 25th is the genuine cause to party, because God became knowable, personal and radically generous with his very life, being born into our midst. Crack out the chocolate fountain, get the housemates round, this moment is worth a toast.
As term draws to a close and the Christmas parties pop up in your Facebook events, I encourage you to throw your weight behind celebrating with your friends. As Christians, we have met the reason to party, and have an opportunity to explain why this can be the best time of year for a good knees-up to our mates, who go along with the merriment without realising the roots. Perhaps the simple prayer ‘Jesus, tonight remind me again why we have always got cause to celebrate’ as you head out, will make a difference to how you bring joy to the proceedings, and share it just by showing up?