I find it challenging to think about how I would consider Christmas if I was hypothetically-not-a-Christian (usually referred to as HNAC Alison). Christmas in Australian is pervasive, regardless of whether it’s incarnation is in any way biblical or not. For this reason, it’s difficult to put myself in the atheist’s shoes at this time of year.
I can only assume that HNAC Alison would just consider Christmas a time of being frenetically busy, catching up with family and friends and probably drinking a little too much along the way, to give herself a very Merry Christmas.
She’d probably consider Christmas a bit of a hindrance at points too. That is, just another thing on her ‘to-do’ list that’s more than just a little bit inconvenient.
This is how Christians would describe the secular approach to Christmas. However – other than the drinking a little too much – it does hold true to a point, with the very first Christmas.
Going to Bethlehem aka “The City of David” was just another thing on Mary and Joseph’s ‘to-do’ list that was more than just a little bit inconvenient. I’m sure Mary, in particular considered such a journey late in her pregnancy a ‘bit of a hindrance’ and that’s putting it lightly.
Singing carols, holding candles, chanting (if allowed) in a Church and gazing serenely at lights and stain-glass windows is great. I sure don’t mind a bit of that at Christmas time myself.
However, I wouldn’t want to over-spiritualise “deep reflection” in December. Nor would I want to turn materialism or socialising into some sort of religious activity.
All I’m saying is that next time I’m running around crazy in December, I won’t berate myself for being at a shopping centre instead of reading my Bible. Mary and Joseph were going where God – as well as the government – had told them to go. I’ll ask God to help me do the same.
Yours in getting to the next thing on her ‘to-do’ list,