I don’t wish you all a Happy Christmas!
I wish for you something richer, deeper. Happiness, it has often been said, is a butterfly; the very quest for it makes it elusive. The Greek philosophers shunned the word happiness. Instead they mused upon εὐδαιμονία [eu̯dai̯monía], better translated flourishing, or fulfilment. This, they contended, made for the “good life”, and as well as fleeting moments of satisfied emotion it included purpose in struggle, triumph in pain and contribution to the welfare of others.
As I sit in my office writing this final piece for the year, I am surrounded by the signs of a happiness that includes giving. The front space of the Chapel before me is crowded with donated goods from School families, to help make the Christmas of others who won’t enjoy turkey or pudding, a little more hopeful and bright. And the foyer bears 24 items of flat-pack furniture assembled as part of Year 9 STEAM activities, waiting for the Refugee association to come and collect for distribution to needy new arrivals.
The story of a vulnerable and expectant young girl and her partner, away from their community, outside Bethlehem and without accommodation does not make for ‘happiness’. Instead, I wish for you a meaningful Christmas which brings eudaimonia, giving, love for others and purpose. Enjoy a fulfilled Christmas.
Rev Phil Hoffmann