CHRISTIAN VIEWPOINT: The meaning of Christmas

The Sun is dying. The winter solstice comes and goes. The Sun comes to life again. We have a reason to celebrate.

That could have been a conversation in prehistoric Cumbria in late December many millennia ago, for the custom of celebrating the shortest day has always been there – it is part of the rhythm of our lives.

When did it become Christmas? The word first appeared about 1,000 years ago, 1,000 years after the birth of Jesus Christ. Because most religions are for ordinary people, religious customs frequently fit into existing practices, enriching them by adding extra depth and meanings.

Christmas fits in well: a new born baby, as we often gather with friends and family; God’s gift of his own son, Jesus, as we give each other presents; joyous celebration of our place in God’s universe as we celebrate anyway.

In his poem Christmas, John Betjeman expresses his own Christian viewpoint. The first few verses brilliantly capture many of the usual December cameos; bells, holly, decorations, shops, present buying.

Then the crunch lines “And is it true? This most tremendous tale of all….The maker of the stars and sea became a child on earth for me?”

Yes there it is; our infinite God did this for little ol’ me. Then Betjeman goes back to the ‘sweet and silly things’ including the ‘hideous tie so kindly meant’.

The poem ends “Nothing can with this single Truth compare – That God was Man in Palestine and lives to-day in Bread and Wine”.

There in a nutshell is one Christian’s take on the nativity.


Anne D. Wilson

Kendal United Reformed Church


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