Today: Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Christmas - when is enough 'enough'?    (12/13/2015)

I guess ‘In the Bleak Mid-winter' is one of my favourite Christmas carols. It locates the Christmas story close to home, here in England—with its frosty winds and snow, and earth as hard as iron, although our winters aren't anything like as hard as they used to be!

There are a couple of words or ideas in the carol that are quite striking, especially in these times of credit crunch and economic recession and, for that matter, climate change.

“Enough for him, whom cherubim worship night and day, A breastful of milk, and a manger full of hay; Enough for him …”

And just like the word ‘enough' is the word ‘sufficed':

“In the bleak mid-winter a stable place sufficed, The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.”

In the West, advertisements, magazines and supermarket shelves shout at us that we must have more, and more, and bigger and better. We are urged to pamper ourselves, spoil ourselves, treat ourselves, indulge ourselves, because, of course, ‘we're worth it'.

Some of this has a hollow ring to those who've lost their jobs or are having to live on reduced incomes. Some people will feel caught in the pincers of what is expected (by the kids, for example) and what they can afford. And we do all know by now, don't we, that credit has been the downfall of the system?

Against that backdrop, God quietly invites us to consider what is enough, what will suffice. In his case, that was food, shelter and a place to lay his head. God was content with the bare necessities.

Well, no, that's not quite enough! There was one more thing that was needed. One more thing that God had… and that was, of course, love: unconditional love. Maybe the Beatles had it spot on, “All you need is love; love is all you need”. If we could spend the time thinking about unconditional love that we all spend on shopping lists, the world might be a different place!

Food, shelter, a place to lay his head with the unconditional love of his parents was enough for Jesus. It was enough for him to do what he had to do, which was to give us all that which we most need: unconditional love. It was enough for him so that everyone else might have enough for them. Jesus needed it, and Jesus gives it; this is at the heart of the Christmas message. It is deeply counter-cultural but absolutely vital to our humanity.

The consumption-addicted society in the West has produced a crisis-bound society, against a backdrop of a crisis-bound world where millions DON'T have food, shelter or a place to lay their heads. Hasn't Christmas just come at the right time to remind us to reflect again on what is enough, on what will suffice, that everyone may have enough?

Pray: "Lord, despite the busy-ness of life and of this season in particular, help me to focus my mind this week on what Christmas is really about."

Think about: Think back to last Christmas, and Christmases before. Where were the best bits, and where were the stresses and challenges? How can you manage Christmas differently now and in future, to focus on the things that matter and to know when enough is 'enough'?

Challenge: If you live in a place where Christmas is celebrated somewhat to excess, what could you do this year for the rfugee crisis? To focus on the real meaning of Christmas - rather than what a consumer-oriented, perfection-seeking society may have conditioned you to expect?

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