Black Friday, Cyber Monday, more mega Christmas adverts this year than ever. Is it any wonder that negative conversations about the commercialisation of the season abound? Yet many of us enjoy looking at the Christmas lights in the town; and I find myself becoming increasingly excited as decorative lights appear in neighbours' windows day by day in the new housing area where we live and more. Today our own Christmas tree went up! These mixed feelings about the trappings of Christmas have set me thinking about my personal reactions
to Christmas through the years, including my years in ministry, and where Jesus Christ has been - or not!
Christmas has always felt a special time of year from childhood. Family folklore included the story of a maiden aunt queuing for hours in post-war Coventry to buy a small doll's pram for me at a time when such toys were scarce. I benefitted from the still commonly held view that 'Christmas is for children'. It was only in becoming a follower of Jesus in my 20s, along with my husband, that our own young child also learnt that the greatest gift came as an infant that first Christmas.
Looking back on years of Christmas ministry makes me feel exhausted! There were numerous special services, visiting, social action projects, along with producing Christmas food for three generations in the house, but I would not have missed a moment! God's invitation to celebrate Jesus' birth was indeed to everyone!
Now in retirement, with less activity, and no grandchildren, how do I approach Christmas? There is pleasure that the ageing Simeon and Anna were included in the story! There is great joy in telling the nativity story in the local primary school. Stripping away some earlier seasonal trappings is like walking backwards towards a more simple Christmas, still rejoicing in the profound truth of God coming to earth to give hope to the people He loves.
Kathryn Morgan is a retired Baptist minister and a trustee of the Christian Enquiry Agency