IT STARTS WITH AN INVITATION
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” – A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens.
Some of the most treasured moments in my life have happened in the Christmas season. When I lived with some housemates in an apartment, we would do a deep clean of the house in preparation for the coming season. After that we would decorate!
It wasn’t just about Christmas itself but everything that it embodies. We were decorating and preparing our home for the coming season of gathering together, cooking, laughing, and resting. We would use decorating as an excuse to have people over, whether it was a dinner party or a movie night, anyone and everyone was invited. Sometimes we would have fun by making up random dynamics of people and inviting them over. It’s not like we were rich. When we invited people over the most we had sometimes was a box of spring rolls in the freezer and a bowl of sweet chilli dip. It didn’t matter though, because we always had a good time!
Not every Christmas is like this and I know some years Christmas is a lonely time. Instead of warm living rooms full of friends and family it can turn out to be just the opposite and a reminder of what we don’t have. These times can be painful and we want Christmas to be over as soon as possible so that the pain can also be over.
The quote at the top is from “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens when Scrooge declares he is a new man after he realises the errors of his ways. I’m not going to accuse anyone of being a Scrooge, I think you would have to try pretty hard to be as selfish as him and I’m very glad that he’s a fictional character! However, I do find Scrooge a helpful depiction of what it looks like to shrink inwards and step back from people when in pain. The light of life was gone in him and he saw no value in the community around him. Scrooge’s character is in direct contrast to his nephew, Fred. The first time we are introduced to Fred’s character is when he gives Scrooge an invitation to Christmas dinner. Fred doesn’t have any money and he has a lot of things he could be worrying about, but he is generous and determined to invite his uncle to dinner.
In many ways, Christmas is an opportunity for us to persevere through hardship and make a deliberate choice to be generous. I wonder if this season there is someone you have been meaning to have over for a while and it keeps not working out? Or someone you have noticed that you know would love an invitation to literally anything. Christmas is the perfect excuse! Even if you only have spring rolls, it is still an invitation. I can’t help but think back to how it all started. In the Christmas story we see an unlikely gathering – shepherds, angels, wisemen, and Mary and Joseph were about as common as it gets. They were all there because of their unusual invitation to a stable, but nonetheless it was an invitation!
The Christmas story is an invitation to a different way of living. A very random yet life changing invitation. The birth of Jesus showed us what hope and generosity could look like in the midst of poverty and hopelessness. The legacy and the reality of Jesus today is that he was and is accessible to everyone. Our world today seems to be increasingly polarised, but with the story of Christmas no sides need to be taken and the message is humble and simple. The birth of Jesus is him welcoming all of us and we have the invitation to welcome him too by celebrating Christmas and beyond! There is a sense of wonder that we have at Christmas which I personally long to carry with me through the year…and it all starts with an invitation.