I was born and brought up on the Island of Lewis. It’s where I was educated, attended an FE College, met and married Jessie and where I, after 4 years studying Social work in Aberdeen, returned to in 1991 and worked for 12 years before moving to Edinburgh with my 4 children in 2003 to train for the Free Church Ministry. Since then I haven’t returned as often as maybe I should have, but when I do there is one thing that strikes me every time. It seems that the place and the people have changed so much from the way I remember them. In fact, to a great extent, I am increasingly left thinking ‘I don’t really recognise this place at all now’.
I feel the same way as we approach yet another Christmas. As the big day approaches the town and the telly are full of lights and Christmas trees, adverts that I don’t quite get, for perfumes that cost a fortune; Santa must be omnipresent because he seems to be in many places at the one time as well, and as an enticement to rack up our debts we’re faced with offers on Sales (already!) for food, drink and entertainment that is sure to add to our Christmas cheer!
Yvonne Lyons is a Christian singer/songwriter whose song ‘I Believe in Christmas’ captures the reality of contemporary Christmas really well: ‘O the madness of another year, wrap up your cold and festive cheer; It’s time for supermarket aisles to fill up shelves for miles and miles’.
Christmas as we know it now is becoming unrecognisable from its original beginning. The Bible tells us the historical story of Christmas in this way: ‘An angel appeared to shepherds and said, ‘do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:10-11).
I agree with Yvonne Lyon whose song refrains repeatedly ‘But I, Oh I, believe in Christmas’. Despite what it is presented as, wrapped up as, perceived as, the Christmas that brings hope and salvation through Jesus Christ, is the Christmas I still believe in. And I hope you all do too.
Your friend and Pastor
Rev Colin MacLeod