Religion Magazine

It's Christmas. Let's Party.

By Malcolmdrogers
From 1647 to 1660, Christmas was cancelled in England and Wales!
Oddly it was cancelled not by some fanatical politically correct authority, but by the Puritan government, which consisted of people who were committed believers and followers of Jesus Christ and who tried to put the teachings of the Bible at the center of all that they did.
It's Christmas. Let's party.
They argued against Christmas for two reasons.
One, we cannot be certain that 25 December really was the day that Jesus was born (it almost certainly was not), that the first church celebration of Christmas that we know of was as late as 336, and the Bible tells us that we do not need to celebrate one day as more special than another (it is interesting how ‘do not need to’ becomes ‘must not’ in our thinking).
And the second reason they gave was because the celebration of Christmas, the dressing up in fine clothes, the music and singing, feasting and partying was pagan and led to immorality.
Oh, and maybe there was a third reason. Most of the people in parliament were ministers or vicars, and if you are a minister or vicar then, by the time you have got to December 20th and have already sung Once in Royal David’s City 478 times, the idea of banning Christmas is very attractive.
(That was NOT one of the reasons!)
But of course, banning Christmas was not a great move.
It was politically foolish: it was one of the reasons why the Puritan government was so easily replaced with a monarchy: it is things like banning Christmas that people deeply resent
And we are human. We need times of feasting and celebration, especially in the middle of a cold, hard winter.
And you will never stop immorality by telling people not to party.
And what better reason to party than Christmas?
1. Christmas gives us a reason to party
It is good news on so many levels
It is good news because it tells us that there is a dimension beyond the material.
The evidence is in the extraordinary (angels and a virgin birth - and in those encounters and events which happen to us that we cannot explain) and also the evidence is in the extra gritty (a homeless baby in a manger)
It is good news - we are not on our own.
Philosophically, it is not all just meaningless. There is a foundation on which we can build
Morally there is a right way to live
Experientially, existentially, God is with us
It is good news because God has kept his word; 
He has not given up on us
A child has been born. He will be
a Saviour - who will rescue us from sin and the consequences of sin and he will save us from death.
a King - God’s King who will bring in God’s kingdom, God’s reign of peace and mercy and justice and abundance and joy.
2. Christmas gives us a focus for a party
It seems to me - not that I am an expert - that the best parties have a focus.

It might be an event, or a person (a birthday, an anniversary)
Who was it who sung, It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to .. ??
If someone is the focus of the party: we dress for them, we do what they would like us to do, we sing their songs, we play their games, we bring gifts that they would like.
Parties reflect their host or their focus: sometimes that is good, and sometimes not so good.
Well the focus of this party is God.
And that is very good.
It is about God, and what God has done,
It is about God’s glory and God’s favour
The angels sing:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!” (Luke 2:14)
And because the host, the focus of this party, is the one who is the most glorious, most beautiful, most loving - this will be a glorious and beautiful party. And this will be a party where there is love.
We focus on God, we delight in God, and we discover that God wants nothing more than to honor us, his guests, to delight in us and to spend time with us.
But that is not all. He also wants his guests to spend time with each other, to honor each other and to delight in each other.
3. Christmas gives us a party with the hope of a greater party to come.
After some parties we can wake up the morning after feeling rather the worse for wear.
But this party is different. We wake up after this party feeling better - and knowing that there is the certainty of a greater party yet to come.
The angels party, but the child has only been born.
There will be many years to wait.
There will be times when it feels that all hope has gone
I wonder if any of the shepherds were around when Jesus was crucified. And if so, I wonder if they linked the man on the cross with the baby in the manger.
And even now we wait.
We live now by faith in Jesus our risen Saviour and King, but we wait for him to be revealed, for his kingdom and rule to come in their fulness.
We wait for the life that is to come.
There is a party in heaven when the King and Saviour, Jesus is born
And there will be the party of all parties when Jesus comes again in glory.
So ten out of ten to the Puritans for taking God seriously
But I don’t think that they were right to ban Christmas
What God did at the first Christmas, whenever it was, was pretty amazing.
So let’s join the angels and have a party.

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