A significant part of celebrating Christmas is the enacting of ritual.
All families have their own.
The timing and process for the installation of the Christmas tree.
The late night present wrap when the children have gone to bed.
The allocation of an individual to distribute the presents (one at a time!) from the tree base to the recipient and the insistence that all must wait and watch while each present is unwrapped.
Whose home you visit for lunch, then dinner (and maybe another stop or two along the way!).
The withholding of permission to begin eating until everyone is wearing the paper crown from the bon-bon cracker.
Part of what makes Christmas a meaningful milestone of our year is the repetition of these established patterns with family and loved ones. Familiar practices in familiar places with familiar people.
These patterns shape our lives. They provide the markers and signposts of our years.
Now I feel like it is a holiday.
Now I can relax and enjoy summer.
Now this year has ended and a new one can begin.
In a faith sense every Christmas is the opportunity for us to be reminded of the central claim of the Christian faith. A claim worth repeating: to ourselves, to our friends and to our world.
God is real, God loves and embraces this world. God is present in and with humanity. God is with (and for) us.
This is the pattern we are to live. This is the truth all our rituals are to draw us closer to. This is the signpost and milestone we are to repeat and repeat and live and live.
The following statement was shared at the recent Congregational Meeting. It is from myself with the support of Church Council.
May God be with you anew this Christmas as you draw near the manger once more. Rev Lucas Taylor