cancel Christmas, bah humbug!

“If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’
on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of
holly through his heart. He should!”

Ebeneezer Scrooge


(Alistair Sim as Scrooge)

So I’m currently up to my elbows in bubble wrap…as we continue the overwhelming task of
packing up the house for a move in mid-January.

But despite my current state of distraction, I have managed to hear, read and see the growing
crescendo of rumblings being offered up by various governmental leadership, on both sides of the pond,
all talking about “canceling” Christmas.

Canceling Christmas?

Hummmmm…

Well it seems that I am not the only one who has heard of these latest
COVID restrictions being mulled over by the various politicians both far and near.

Mandated—-

There shall be no collective gatherings—or so they say.

No family get-togethers.
No Midnight mass.
No live nativities.
No shared meals.
No singing.
No caroling.
No parties.
No worship.

So instead of mistletoe and Christmas pageants, there are to be fines, warrants,
and arrests for anyone choosing to defy the Draconian proclamations.
Woe be unto anyone who wants to live out a life full of the depth of holiday cheer
and Christian Joy.

It seems that our friend the Wee Flea, the Pastor David Roberston, hailing
these days from the land down under, has written his latest post about this very notion–
the idea of canceling Christmas.

David even offered up a bit of a history lesson—
Did you know that Christmas was once actually illegal in England?…

“After all was it not Cromwell who banned Christmas?
Not quite…

On 19 December 1643, the English Parliament passed a law encouraging its citizens to treat
the mid-winter period ‘with the more solemn humiliation because it may call to
remembrance our sins, and the sins of our forefathers, who have turned this feast,
pretending the memory of Christ, into an extreme forgetfulness of him,
by giving liberty to carnal and sensual delights’.
From then until 1660, Christmas was actually illegal in England.
In Scotland we banned it from 1640 until 1686.
In fact Christmas was not a public holiday in Scotland until 1958 (unlike New Year) –
Boxing Day in 1974.
We can’t blame Cromwell for that.

I have grown to love Christmas as a great time to reflect upon the incarnation
and to communicate the Gospel.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see –
hail the incarnate Deity.
Yet I also loathe the commercialism, excess and
‘carnal and sensual delights’. Excessive drunkenness,
as well as the declining popularity of the church,
meant that the tradition of midnight Christmas carols, was already becoming less.
Who knows, but Covid may have killed it off?
In St Peter’s in Dundee I introduced a carol service and a Christmas day service –
both were great opportunities for outreach and fellowship.
I suspect McCheyne would not have approved.

But what about this year?
In Sydney, we are debating about whether we can go ahead with outdoor carol services
and get over the ridiculous ban on singing.
In the UK and the US, I suspect the Covid hysteria will be ongoing and
just when they need some Christmas cheer they will be reduced to what
the Scottish Government is calling a ‘digital Christmas’.
It won’t be long before the daily message from politicians includes the
sickly message that Santa is not banned.

But perhaps we can give a different message?
Perhaps churches can ‘reset’ so that we turn Christmas to what it should be –
a celebration of the incarnate God. At a time when churches are being urged
to be less incarnational we can proclaim the one who did not come ‘digitally’,
nor did he die or rise ‘spiritually’.
He came in the flesh.
Pleased as man with man to dwell.
A real baby, with real tears (crying he did make),
in a real world where an unknown number of baby boys were killed in an attempt to get him.
Real angels…real shepherds….a real star…and real glory.
In a world that is governed by misery and fear, we can bring
‘good news of great joy for all the people’.

We should be singing like the angels in the public square…
we should be proclaiming Christ from the rooftops, in our pulpits
and on our digital platforms.
We should be looking at creative ways to engage church,
children and community with the Gospel.
Perhaps some will not be permitted to bring people to church –
but is there any reason why we cannot go out –
by whatever means possible – and, like the angels, take the good news of
‘glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men on whom his favour rests’?
Instead of churches seeing Christmas as an exhausting burden of endless services,
perhaps we can find a more sustainable way to use this
time to proclaim and glorify Christ.
Maybe even Cromwell would approve of that.

Have Yourself A Merry Cromwellian Christmas – AP

And so I now think about Christmas.

I think about the secular vs the spiritual of Christmas.

I think about what it means to keep Christmas in our hearts.

And so, as Tiny Tim said, “A Merry Christmas to us all;
God bless us, every one!”

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me,
the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience
as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God,
be honor and glory forever and ever.
Amen.

Timothy 1:15-17

Yes, God bless us each and everyone!!!

what does forgiveness look like

I had prepared an entire post for this morning that was to continue with the
discussion from yesterday regarding prayer…but that post will just have to wait until tomorrow.

It has to wait because I just finished reading the latest post from our friend
David Robertson…our favorite Scottish pastor who is now our favorite
down under pastor.
His post, or what I consider to be more of a reflection, centers on a leading US headline.

It is a post about the US news story regarding the trial of the white female police officer
who unbelievably walked into her neighbor’s apartment—
a neighbor who was a young black male–
She mistakingly thought it was her own apartment, and in turn, shot the neighbor
as he sat on the couch eating ice cream…
All the while thinking he was a burglar in her apartment.

I won’t even begin to try to go into the surrealism of this story.
The attempt of understanding this particular case—
a case which eludes the mind and prevents any ability to comprehend how or
why this could have ever happened.

Of course, there are currently a myriad of angry voices expressing their take to this
entire sad tale…but in the end…there are no words.

There is only tragedy, loss and death.

Or so that is what we would be lead to believe.

Yet there is one individual in all of this who has shown us otherwise.

It is the 18-year-old younger brother to the 26-year-old victim who tells us all that there
is much more to this story…

This is what forgiveness and love look like (David’s full post follows the clip)

Here is the link to David’s post…

Amber Guyger and Brandt Jean – Forgiveness – the Most Radical Teaching of Christ – in Practice

Warfare

“It is Satan’s constant effort to misrepresent the character of God, the nature of sin,
and the real issues at stake in the great controversy.
His sophistry lessens the obligation of the divine law and gives men license to sin.
At the same time he causes them to cherish false conceptions of God so that they regard Him
with fear and hate rather than with love.
The cruelty inherent in his own character is attributed to the Creator;
it is embodied in systems of religion and expressed in modes of worship.”

Ellen G. White


(image of a replica of a plane similar to the Red Baron’s / The History Channel)

“To KILL and kill and kill was the cry.
To burn, to destroy, to devastate, to lay waste.
Men heard the madness and knew it for madness and embraced it,
some with fear and some with joy.
Kill or be killed.
Survive or perish.”

And so opens the 1927 book The Red Knight Of Germany:
The Story of Baron von Richthofen
by Floyd Gibbons.

Today, the Baron is known to most of us simply as the Red Baron.
The famous, or perhaps infamous, WWI German flying ace.

The Red Baron was the name applied to Manfred von Richthofen,
a German fighter pilot who was the deadliest flying ace of World War I.
During a 19-month period between 1916 and 1918,
the Prussian aristocrat shot down 80 Allied aircraft and won widespread fame for
his scarlet-colored airplanes and ruthlessly effective flying style.
Richthofen’s legend only grew after he took command of a German fighter wing known
as the Flying Circus, but his career in the cockpit was cut short in April 1918,
when he was killed in a dogfight over France.

The History Channel

I had been dusting when I noticed the stack of books I’d brought back from Dad’s almost
a year ago.
The tattered and yellow-paged red cardboard backed book seemed to beckon that I pick it up.

There was no mistaking the black imprinted iron cross on the cover.

The first paragraph was definitely an attention-grabbing opener.

I think I will now read the book…

For it speaks of soldiers and war.
It speaks of heroes and death.
as it speaks of victory and loss.

All sad, all fleeting, all madness when the luster fades and the lights run into the shadows.

Our hindsight now gently affords us that bit of understanding.

It is all madness was it not?
Is it not?

Yet the dogfights of those early days of war, being fought high up in the clouds, has
romanticized itself into something almost mystical…

And so it is with this notion of war and of the idea of fighting for what one believes in
which brings my thoughts around to another sort of warfare that is currently being waged
all around us..which is unbeknownst to most.

I caught a brief, 2 minute long, interview yesterday with our friend the Wee Flea
David Robertson.
David is currently on Sabbatical in the land down under but that has in no way quieted his
witness nor his words written or spoken on behalf of the Faith and Faithful.

This short interview David provides for the Forum of Chrisitan Leaders
entitled “How should we use the means of Grace in Evangelism”, touches
on the notion of seeing Jesus in action…
Of which is actually performed by both you and me.

Yet it is how we go about performing such that is key to our witness and earthly battle.
We need to be fed…
Fed by the Bible and by prayer because what we are doing actually boils down to
spiritual warfare.

Because where the word of Christ is proclaimed, Satan works desperately hard, waging war,
in order to silence that Word.

And so it’s the idea of Christians living solely for Jesus and not for self.
For when we allow self to get in the way or even intervene…then that is not Christ.

David touches on this notion of spiritual warfare and that it is the Holy Spirit who
convicts the sin and the righteousness and the judgment…
in order for our ability to go forward and do battle…
not us…
not us alone.