What is the Christmas you are waiting for?

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Many years ago I had a colleague, Derek, who had spent some time working in Asia. He was part of an ex pat community that suddenly popped up in a number of Asian cities during what was called the emergence of Tiger economies.

In what appeared the blink of an eye these Asian cities were suddenly hosting western business people who were not just flying in for a brief business trip but were staying for prolonged assignments. Welcoming them as guests they also sought to provide them with the goods and services that made them feel at home. Suddenly HP sauce and Marmite appeared on supermarket shelves!

Derek tells the story of a large department store that wanted to celebrate Christmas. Not in any spiritual or religious sense but as a commercial opportunity. The problem was that they didn’t really know what Christmas was. Ever inventive, the store manager sent his window dressers off to find out what the best image of Christmas would be to attract the Americans and Europeans into his shop.

After much research and consultation the design team came up with a Christmas concept for the department store’s window. A tableau of children opening presents under a Christmas tree all overlooked by a red-coated Santa Claus hanging from a cross!

A ludicrous image for Christmas? More ludicrous than Disney style animals bouncing on a trampoline? Derek’s tale may well be apocryphal but it serves to illustrate the point that our view of Christmas has been enormously distorted. Even so called Christian imagery parodies rather than commemorates the Bible story. Read the Gospel accounts of Christ’s birth and you will find no stable, any more than you will find three oriental kings.

The Christmas story has been bowdlerised by commercial interests but also by lazy Christian teaching. What should be celebrated as one of the greatest events in history has been marginalised and trivialised. So this year why don’t we all try to get a taste of the true story of Christmas.  Visit a local church for a Christmas service, if you don’t know where to find one email us at ipschaplain@gmail.com and we will happily help you. You may decide that it’s not for you, you may not be willing to accept it but at least you will be saying no to what the bible teaches and not to a Boxer called Buster!

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