Depending on your age, you will have responded to this question with “me two front teeth” (first released in 1944), or simply, “You” (first released in 1994 and one of my favourites).
This Sunday is Advent Sunday, the first day of the season where we traditionally count down to Christmas and think more about what it means, what presents we want to give and receive – and this year, for the first time, we get to keep those relatives we would rather not see, away! (If any of my family is reading this I don’t mean any of you, naturally). But as if Christmas wasn’t already recognised as a highly stressful time for families, this year looks like being the most complicated of the lot.
It certainly won’t look like the Christmas we have seen previously in our lives, with the big gatherings, office parties and the like. It will be harder to get presents because the shops won’t all be open and everyone will be trying to get stuff online (note to self: order presents this week). When we stop to think for a moment though, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Christmas has become so muddled, and so full of “extra bits”, that the actual reason for it has slowly been pushed to one side, hidden behind the tree, or trodden on by the reindeer. Could it be that this year many people, including Christian believers, will have the chance to discover once again what it’s really all about? To have a simpler, stripped back celebration that focusses more on Jesus, without Whom there would not be a Christmas at all? To rediscover the glory of God invading earth in a tiny, helpless Baby so that we can know God is with us, and for us? To rediscover the greatest Christmas Gift of all, the One that inspires all the others, God’s great gift of forgiveness and salvation? As the Angel said to Joseph, “do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1v20/21).
All I want for Christmas this year is for people to know how much they are loved by the God Who made them, and Who sent His Son to show them that love – first in a manger in a stable, later on a Cross, and finally by rising from the dead. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3v16/17).
At the start of this Advent, in this most unusual of years, may we strip back the distractions and discover once again the true meaning of Christmas; and may that discovery change our lives, and the lives of those around us, for the good, and for good.
God bless, stay well