It seems that this year – for adults at least – Christmas has lost some of its sparkle. We wonder how we can celebrate when there is so much fear and violence in the world. How can we enjoy ourselves when there are people who are suffering?
Actually, I believe that the world’s situation isn’t any different because it is Christmas, it’s just that we are more aware of it because of the contrast with our celebrations. There are always people who have nothing in both our own country and across the world, and there is always something to be afraid of if we choose to be afraid.
Christmas is about the Bible story of Mary and Joseph travelling far from home to Bethlehem and asking for a room at the inn. It isn’t a story of fear, of people being turned away at borders or taking someone’s job, it’s a story of hope. Mary and Joseph are people who have nothing and although at first they are turned away, they are eventually helped by the innkeeper, found by the Wise Men and shepherds who came to see the baby born in the stable, and our Christmas story is one of joy, celebration and light. Without hope, there can be no celebration.
How are Mary and Joseph different from the people of today who have nothing and need our help? You only have to look at the television and the newspapers to see how people are giving their help. Food, clothing and utensils for refugees. The gift of time to elderly people who would otherwise be without visitors. Food and supplies for people in our own country who cannot survive without the kindness of others. Our instinct is to be a kind nation, we are people who want to make life better for others, and I think that is something to be remembered and celebrated.
Martin Luther King wrote, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that”. Marianne Williamson writes, "We are all meant to shine ... And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same." Love and light, the sentiments of Christmas, wouldn't you agree? If we can show them to our families, we can show them to others, and for the most part, many of us do.
I don't think that Christmas is losing its sparkle at all. It may be a different kind of sparkle to the one that we have come to expect, but that may not be a bad thing. Christmas isn't always about "what can I have?" but also about "what can I give?". I think that if we look closely, we can see sparkles all around us, but instead of them being provided from elsewhere, they come from inside us. That's a special gift indeed.