Christmas – has it lost it’s meaning?
When I was a child the autumn nights ‘drew in’, the clocks changed, the local Brownies had a Halloween party and the Scouts did a firework display.
Sometime after that, and it felt like forever to a six-year-old, Christmas finally came.
These days, red twinkling shop displays begin to appear in September, the giant Toblerones are on the shelves well before Halloween and the fireworks displays last until New Year.
Yet, as the Christmas season lengthens in the shops, the understanding in society as to why we celebrate Christmas seems to diminish.
With each passing generation the significance of Christmas gets further lost in a hectic display of consumerism.
The traditions once held dear have become meaningless, with school nativity plays full of characters that never saw the inside of the stable door and carollers singing “I wish it could be Christmas every day” thinking it’s a Christian song.
It makes sense, then, to read that the OnePoll survey indicated only 3 in 10 people learned about Jesus from the Bible, with most people getting their knowledge from school or TV shows.
A Christmas Gospel – the story of Jesus wrapped up!
In contrast to that, the last 4 years have seen over 50,000 Christmas Gospels distributed across Scotland.
These little red books have made their way into Christmas stockings, through letter boxes, been included in Christmas cards, given out in shopping malls and even distributed by churches in community food parcels.
Often when a Gospel is given away as a gift by a church the impact is unknown, but we should never underestimate what can happen. This is one story:
Grace was over 80 when I met her. She was tiny, like a little fairy with white hair and bright eyes that spoke of intelligence, interest and wit. She was also fragile in that end of life way where every day is precious and muscle weakness prevails. Sunday afternoons were our slot. She would toddle out to my car and we’d go for tea, or when she was poorly, we’d just watch an old film on the telly. She was lonely, aware the end was coming and uncertain about where she would be next.
It was as I tidied up her magazines preparing to leave one December afternoon that a very familiar book fell to the floor. “Grace,” I asked, “where did you get this?” “Local church,” she said, “put through the door.” I sat down again and turned the pages with her, asking which bits she’d read.
Christmas came, but we never had a chance to follow up that chat. In January I drove to her funeral. As we walked from the church, her sister held my hand and told me she’d been praying for Grace for years. She knew I was a Christian and had hoped, prayed, I would have the chance to share the Gospel with her. So, I told her of a little book popped through the door, of a conversation about life and death, Jesus and the resurrection, the promise of eternity.
I think often of the anonymous church volunteer pushing that book through the letterbox, not knowing what would happen, but giving in faith. For Grace, it was a very special gift.
Why not consider a ‘God’s Gift’ Gospel distribution by your church this Christmas?
Door to door, in food parcels, at the Christmas Market, Watchnight, Christingle or at any other event or celebration your church has.
It may make all the difference to someone near you.
Christmas Gospels are just 25p per copy when ordered through the SBS website.