Wednesday 26 December 2012

Christmas in review

Boxing Day, 26th December, is a good time to take stock. Christmas Day has happened but is still fresh in the memory. Here, in the UK, Boxing Day is a public holiday so there is a bit of time to think as we aren't on usual schedule.

So why do I need to review Christmas after the event? We had a happy, restful family day. We went to a reverent and helpful service. Later, at home, there was time to read and play board games.

We keep Christmas as a remembrance of the birth of the Lord Jesus. We exchange gifts and have a special meal but central to this, or should be, is thanksgiving for the birth of the Lord. As usual, I struggled with this.

The day that we are commanded to keep is the Lord's Day-a weekly celebration. Christmas isn't commanded and so has to be less important. The preparations for Sunday take a day or probably less-clean, best clothes, meal ready to go in the oven as we go to church and a special cake. Christmas isn't a command but the preparations can take weeks. To be honest, my focus can, and does, shift from the reason for the celebration to the practicalities: from a Mary to a Martha mindset.

It is easy to get so busy that the important is overtaken by what appears to be necessary-those presents that have to arrive on time, the newsletter, the cards, decorations, food and so on.

Home educating makes Christmas easier. I well remember, the years, when I sat, uncomfortable, in a church or assembly hall, struggling with whether I should be there in some semblance of worship that seemed to bring dishonour on the Lord.

I'm not going to be a popular person for saying this but I am thankful  that home education means we don't have a round of nativity plays. Nativity plays are irreverent, almost always break the second commandment, and probably the third. They are not God's way to present the Gospel, His good news, and tend to be an amazing blend of the holy and profane. I'm not proud of the fact that, in years gone by, my children have participated and certainly, as time passed I became more and more uncomfortable with having children in Nativity Plays.

Still, there is far more that we could and probably should do to make our celebration more Christ centred. Just being home educators doesn't sanctify our celebration-the challenges are different.

This is a time of opportunity for the children to learn of the place of the coming of the Lord Jesus in history and of the prophecies. We have spent time reading about the nativity of the Lord Jesus but perhaps, should spend more time on the foretellings and purpose of His birth.

If we are are Christians and plan to celebrate Christmas then it needs to be a Christ centred celebration.  Everything has to go through the sieve of God's Word.

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