This article is a collaborative project of The Virtual Chapel. I made a post in the group which asked the question “What does Christmas mean to you?” and this is the response which our community gave. There were a couple different themes in people’s comments which I have tried to bring together into two sections and one poem. We had such a great number of responses that I was not able to include everything which people shared. While the article speaks with a single voice, it is actually the voices of the twenty seven people from around the world who participated all mixed together. Everything in what follows is written by people other than myself and my voice can only be found in the way I have edited all the comments together into a single piece.
Merry Christmas to you and yours, may your heart be humble as a stable and may the light of Christ be born within it. Amen
Mary Mother of Evolution The breath of the world speaks to her the sister you wished for, star of the sea Her prayers travel through time for the one who births you to sing The hope of the world within her the mother you wished for, your star in the sky She holds all love’s wisdom every flower of your dream The light of the world shines through her the gift you wished for, a perfect child She rocks you in her arms and teaches you to sing again
What Christmas means to us personally
Oh beloved Christmastime; a whole season to remember that beautiful light can be found in deep darkness and that the Holy can be found, celebrated, and birthed in each person.
I feel that Christmas is the sum of all waiting. A saviour born, a tiny child who changed the whole world and whose presence is lived with and longed for today. Christmas lights a spark inside, one that kindles flames of joy, and sometimes grief. It’s a reminder of how much we need our loved ones, how many memories we’ve shared with them, and how wonderful it is to both give and allow ourselves to receive. The best gift is the magic that shines in our loved ones’ eyes. Reflections of tree lights, firesides, and the gleam of goodness that arrives when we are in each other’s presence and there is nothing but love between us.
Christmas to me is hope and light. The birth of the Christ child, born in a stable, of ordinary parents who became refugees, is the ultimate story of hope. A story with a meaning which we are meant to follow – to love our neighbours and feed the hungry and take in the needy. Christmas is not about extravagant presents, but inviting in the lonely person down the street, or gifting a toy to a child in care. And what do those things do? They provide light into someone’s darkness; they spark a feeling of worthiness and love. In the UK Christmas falls during the dark cold days and the lights that shine from homes and buildings are a literal reminder that God is not a distant star in the sky, but a very real presence in the world, experienced through our actions.
When the spirit of Christmas has begun to appear each year, there is something that fills the air. A sense of giving beyond self. Our love is given in gratitude. Some long for gifts to give and to receive. Some give and some take. Others long to belong. And some gather in cheer. All seem to find something of the spirit, even if they choose to hide it. When sharing the spirit, a sense of profound joy builds deep within. Sometimes this joy can be shared with others and sometimes it is ours alone.
For a few blessed moments, we stop. And the quiet of the night time becomes wholly other. The darkness contains peace, not fear. The silence gifts us with hope. We breathe in the Ruach and she settles into us, impregnating us with the possibility that the precious moments just might last a bit longer, fill us a little fuller, embrace us more completely. And, before we know it, for a few exquisite seconds we’ve truly known Divine Love. However we find the spirit of Christmas, it changes us deep within and we hope one day we can share this joy the whole year through.
Christmas has always been a time of wonder for me. As a child, my parents would take us to a hushed and magical Christmas Eve service at church. Late that evening, after all the presents were opened, I would look out my bedroom window for the Christmas Star. It was always there, as if just waiting for some little girl to see, bringing hope, promise, and presence. And so each year I celebrate the quiet presence of Jesus, Immanuel, God with us.
For me, Christmas is a time to slow down, to reflect, and to be with those we love. Christmas is my yearly spiritual life centrepoint. I take stock of my spiritual experiences since the previous christmas, and then look forward to what the spiritual journey I am on will continue to bring. Each Christmas is a rebirth into new experiences, conscious contact with God. Also, my sobriety, which was a pure and unexpected gift. When I was younger it was all about non stop activity and striving to meet so many unreasonable expectations. Today, it’s about leaving the noise of the inn where almost nothing matters and stepping quietly into the stable where everything matters. We still participate in some Christmas traditions but we’ve dialled so much of that back and now Christmas is truly a time of wonder and thankfulness for us.
What Christmas means to us theologically
Christmas is Hope. In the darkest days and in the days I feel good. The hope is so holy that it fills the earth. It’s palpable. Christmas reminds us of the unspeakable mysteries beyond those things we can comprehend. It is a time when we remember, celebrate, stand in awe at the love of God. It is a marvellous mystery that God so loved the world, each one of us as individuals, that He made a way for us to be in relationship with Him here on earth, and later in eternity. How marvellous, how wonderful is our Saviour’s love for me, for you. Christmas is a time to celebrate the gift of new life, and as we give gifts to the people we love and care for, remember we are loved.
Christmas is summed up in Luke 2:14 ““Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” God revealed God-self in the human Jesus. God declared that divine favour rests on humanity. God reaffirmed the fundamental, the essential goodness of God’s creation. God declared that God has not removed God from creation, but that God and creation are fundamentally and inseparably one. Jesus came to show us what being truly human means; it is to live in perfect unity with God. As Athanasius affirms, “God became man so that man might become God.”
We, in our flawed state, still need a regular reminder that Christ came to us in a similarly vulnerable wrapper. We need ritual, gathering and other outward symbols of that mind-blowing incomparable reverse engineering of Creator-creature meld. And hopefully at least one moment of each day we get a little nudge in our spirit to call to True Source for a bliss fusion.
Christmas is the embodiment of rebirth and all the vulnerability attached to it. Immanuel. God the tiny, vulnerable baby. God the poor, the little. No kingdoms, no power. God the baby fills us with wonder and love. We are the nurturers, we must take care of God. Christmas is the time each year when we remember and celebrate the incredible miracle of Jesus Christ becoming incarnate on this earth, being birthed as a baby. It is so incredible and so beautiful. To be born in a cave, amongst animals and the hay and dirt. What amazing love and humility!
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