Christmas in the Year of our Lord: 2017

Once more the Christmas season has fallen upon us.

During this Festive time of the year we are given the opportunity to ask the kinds of questions that we should really be asking all the time.

In the run up to the annual series of Christmas services that we put on for the town, we’ve been trying to ask some of these questions to ourselves, so that we can reflect on the importance of this time in the context of our religion, as well as our identity as British Citizens and members of this small community here in Livingston Green.

What does it mean to be a Christian in 2017?

John 7:24 says: ‘Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement.’

Being a Christian in the 21st Century is no easy task. We have to constantly contend with many harsh realities and contradictions that our forefathers would not have had to. The information age means has made us fully aware of the wrongs being done in the world, but we’re still (mostly) powerless to stop them. To be a Christian in 2017 is to be aware.

How can we make this Christmas truly special?

John 3:16 says: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’

When we’re children Christmas is an exciting time for us; every year we anticipate it’s arrival writing Christmas lists and opening advent calendars. Time and age change our perception of Christmas, regardless of our denomination, it can be hard to make it special after you’ve done 20, 30 or even 40 of them already. Make yours special by meeting new people and celebrating in a new way.

Is it always possible for us to go the extra mile?

Isaiah 58:10 says: ‘Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble.Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.’

Some of us know that we can try harder – that we can do more, but some other might already be doing as much as they can. Is it a good idea for us to constantly keep pushing to go the extra mile? Balance is important when it comes to giving, make sure that you leave enough time for yourself.

Can we ask ourselves to do more throughout the year?

Romans 12:10 says: ‘Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honour.’

It’s important for us to consider helping people more during the Christmas season, but surely it follows that we should be acting charitably throughout the year? Christmas is a time to remind ourselves about what we can do – what change we can make – throughout the year, rather than just at Christmas.

Can the Christmas story be relevant to non-Christians?

Luke 11:41 says: ‘But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you.’

At this time of year, we can easily forget that Christmas is not celebrated by everyone. Here in Livingston Green we are a predominantly Christian population, with very few other minorities; we must be careful not to force our celebrations into the faces of those that might find them confusing or offensive. The Christmas story can be relevant to non-Christians but it’s up to us to let them find their own meaning from it.