2015_12_22_AI was recently in a department store and was delighted to hear a well-rehearsed Salvation Army band playing Christmas music. ‘Silent night’ and ‘While shepherds watched their flocks by night’ shared the repertoire with ‘Jingle bells’, ‘Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer’ and the clattering of cash registers. It was a modern, open plan store and so the music reached every crevice.

Some people stopped to listen while others carried on with their shopping either listening to it as background music or trying to ignore it.  Whatever attitude was taken towards the music with its news about the birth of Jesus Christ, few would deny that it affected the atmosphere of the store – positively for many and probably negatively for a few.

The birth of Jesus Christ has always affected people in a kaleidoscope of ways.  The three magi (wise men) from the East could not wait to find Jesus as they wanted to worship him: King Herod of Judea could not wait to get rid of Jesus as he regarded him as a threat.

It’s the same today. For those wanting to hear the story of Jesus Christ, for all who want to engage with him, even as background music, he can bring life, light and new possibilities.  Many of the thousands of refugees in the Middle East and in Europe will be celebrating the birth of Christ with particular focus as they seek life, light in their darkness and new possibilities for the future.

Whether a person holds to the Christian faith, is interested in the Christian faith or even rejects the Christian faith, one of the important outcomes of celebrating the birth of Christ is that it affects the atmosphere of our communities.  However, it is important that the singing of ‘Jingle bells’ (which can be fun) and the clattering of cash registers does not drown out the good news of the Christmas carols.

Wishing you a happy Christmas – may life, light and new possibilities be yours at this time.