It’s a Christmas cliché we all recognise: the dysfunctional family gathering. Uncle Fred is drinking too much as usual. Jane has brought her new partner and thank goodness they’re seated away from Jane’s ex-husband. The intensity of the turkey-carving debate makes it obvious there are darker issues under the surface. And that’s without even getting into the minefield of asymmetrical gift-giving and useless presents. Even if your Christmas experiences are generally positive, you’ll understand where the cliché comes from.
And so, although many people are unhappily lonely over the holiday season, there seems to be a bit of a trend in some circles towards voluntary solitude on Christmas day. The introverts of the world can easily see the attraction: sleeping in, a long bath, two or three of my favourite movies. A day spent far away from the conflict and chaos of a big family gathering.
Yet at the centre of the Christian message is the claim that God the Son didn’t remain in the comfortable tranquility of heaven but entered our world of chaos. He didn’t stay home alone but walked through the door into the tension- plagued human family. Jesus was born away from his hometown because of a heavy-handed edict from the Roman emperor. As a child, his family had to flee abroad because of the violent insecurities of a Jewish puppet king. In the end, Jewish and Roman anxieties combined to bring about Jesus’ humiliating death. He endured the worst our conflict-ridden world had to offer. And the Bible presents all of this not as an unfortunate accident but as God’s plan for reconciliation between this messy world and its creator.
At All Saints we cherish this truth that in Jesus, God has come near. We’re a group of imperfect people captivated by the way our maker has got his hands dirty to rescue us humans from the mess we’ve made for ourselves. And whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, whether you approach family gatherings with enthusiasm or dread, whatever your story, we’d love to have you along to one of our Christmas events as we examine and celebrate the best gift of all.