Recapturing Christmas Wonder
The build up (from about August), the songs, the films, the adverts, the gifts, the food, the parties – all that fuss must be there for a reason, right? Maybe once, in the dimness of your memory, you remember something about ‘Joy to the World’ and togetherness, and fun and goodwill – there are hints at something good. But it is like trying to hold on to mist.
Maybe it never existed at all in your past, but you had a sense of how it should be or could be from those Christmas card scenes, and snowy films with happy endings. But the good bits seem to be all tied up with other stuff: busyness, pressure for perfection, expensive gifts, shopping in crowds, arguments, loneliness. The shops try to distract us with heartwarming or striking adverts promising cosiness or wild times; social media convinces us that everyone else has planned the picture-perfect Christmas, or has somewhere to go and people to be with. At the end of the season, many feel drained, unsatisfied, longing for something more, all those promises Paul McCartney made about a ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ unfulfilled.
“This is a very fragile world where there’s easily a loss of hope and wonder. A lot of people find those words simplistic, but I think that’s what keeps you going…….[this is] a story of [the] rediscovery of joy….”
This is not a description of the Christmas wonder of the birth of Jesus, but the director of the upcoming Mary Poppins sequel talking about the film, which will be out around Christmas this year. He recognises the need in people for hope and wonder and offers a film about a magical nanny. Other films have offered similar solutions to people losing sight of wonder and joy – Christopher Robin met up with his childhood toys to recapture his imagination, saving him from everyday boredom, grinding work, and separation from his family.
It is easy to want to return to being a small child. They still seem to find it all so marvellous. They are in awe of life, viewing it all through innocence, purity, curiosity, and joy. This childlike sense of wonder was placed in our hearts by God, and can only be fully met in Him. It is still there in our hearts, but squashed down by worry and hurry and disappointment, dismissed as something adults don’t have time for.
The wonderful thing is that Christmas is about how, while we were still far off wandering around trying to meet our needs through work or money or other people, God – the all-powerful creator of Heaven and Earth and us – came to meet us by becoming one of us through the birth of Jesus as a baby in Bethlehem. This was just the first part of His rescue plan for us. We had turned away from the God of love and truth and life. If you turn away from Him, it means you are turning towards disconnection, ignorance, death. To save us, Jesus was willing to swap places with us and be disconnected, in darkness, and to die. But Jesus rose again and overcame death and darkness and disconnection once and for all, so we can live connected, illuminated, eternal lives with God. This is the true wonder that we need to recapture. The promises and messages about Christmas made by venues promoting parties, or shops selling products, are pale imitations of the truth. We are captured by these messages and feel bound to consume, spending our time and money. Yet the wonderful truth is that we only need to receive God’s gift to us. Set aside time and space this Christmas to find this wonder again. It is a wonder that needs to be shared, that our friends and family are looking for, so please invite as many people as possible to come and recapture the wonderful truth this Christmas.Christmas, Magazine