The silly season will soon be upon us. Out will come the tinsel, reindeer ears on cars, images of gently falling snow and saints re-badged in Coca-Cola sponsored red and white outfits. From an original story of hope and peace birthed in a humble farm animals’ shelter outside a little-known Middle East village, what we celebrate has moved a long way! Now the market economy depends on this once-off story for its Christmas sales. There’s been a take-over. The meaning and message of Christmas, you might say, has been ‘consumed’.
Several years ago I registered a personal protest against this commercialisation by deciding to give each of my five children a Christmas gift with a difference – a donation to an overseas aid project in their name. Someone needy in our world gets financial support for access to education, health or farming and my children would each receive a card saying, “this was given, thinking of you”. Now it has become a valued tradition in the family Christmas as they delve into their charity cards to see what they reveal: a goat in Africa, school books for a student in the Pacific, or the poignant gift of medical attention in Gaza – which my Palestinian-born child loves. These days it is the after-shave, chocolates and socks that, though they be welcomed, are put aside as lesser.
Want to join this growing ‘campaign’ to re-claim Christmas? Better, it means you don’t have to go to the local major shopping outlet and face the pressure of ‘shop, shop, shop’. Here are links to the Australian Council of Churches joint Christmas giving: https://gifts.actforpeace.org.au/ and the Uniting Church’s own ’UnitingWorld’ overseas aid agency: https://everythingincommon.com.au/. A gift closer to the purpose.
You are also invited to celebrate Christmas with a focus on its hope, joy and peace in a Christmas Service to be held in the Chapel on Thursday 12 December from 7.00 pm, the evening after school breaks and the opening night of Christmas Lights – a low-key telling of the story, with carols and candles.
Rev Phil Hoffmann