Communities around me are beginning to work out how they can celebrate Christmas this year, in ways that are likely to be different from how they have been. And I am enjoying seeing some of the traditional Christmas images come out of storage.

 

Communities in my local area are beginning to ask questions like, ‘Will we still be able to hold a Christmas Tree Festival in the church?’ and ‘Will we still be able to have carol singing?’ and there’s a steady stream of ideas about how celebrations can be the same, but different. For example, one Christmas Tree Festival is likely to still go ahead, but with booked time slots both to decorate the trees and for visitors to view them later. Another Christmas Tree Festival has changed into a Treasure Hunt around the community instead. And there is a national initiative encouraging people to join together to sing carols from their doorsteps on the Sunday before Christmas. As I have watched these ideas taking shape and being shared, I have enjoyed seeing the traditional pictures of Christmas Trees, angels and Christmas robins coming out once more.

 

Many of the images I associate with Christmas have traditional meanings; angels remind us of the angels that appeared to Mary, to Joseph and to the shepherds in the biblical nativity accounts, while the star on the top of a Christmas tree reminds us of the star that the wise men followed to find the baby Jesus. But I find that Christmas images have their own particular associations for me too. I find that angels, in the context of Christmas, ‘speak’ to me of the wide-eyed wonder of small children in their first Nativity plays, and so speak to me of joyfulness and optimism, and an openness to new ideas and experiences. And Christmas robins remind me of real robins, and the beauty and fragility and resilience of the natural world.

 

Throughout his ministry, Jesus drew on imagery that would have been familiar to his hearers. He spoke of life-giving water, and fruitful vines, and caring shepherds, and sustaining bread, and many more. And he taught his hearers to reflect on what they could learn about themselves, and God, and living well with one another, from simple things around them that ‘spoke’ to them in various ways.

 

  • As you see the beginnings of this year’s Christmas preparations, what images resonate with you this year?

  • Are there any images, or traditions, that you will see in a different light this year?

 

Prayer for the week - 20th November 2020

 

As I look out my window I have been watching falling leaves for several weeks now, and from time to time I travel in my imagination, the journey of those leaves.

As the world awaits the outcome of the American presidential election, and the people of America seem as divided as ever in their support and loyalty, I found myself wondering about what makes America ‘America.’ Is there a national identity, and if there is, what is it like?