Christmas traditions?

Earlier today on Bellshill Salvation Army Band’s Facebook page I shared some devotions. I’d like to share those devotions with you tonight.

Christmas has been celebrated the world over for many years, so I’m sure many of you have either inherited or created some family traditions which you normally uphold every year. If I were to ask you what your Christmas traditions are, would they include any of the following?

  • Spending a day Christmas shopping with your friends or family
  • Putting up the Christmas tree
  • Decorating the house
  • Giving gifts to family and friends
  • Spending quality time with family on Christmas Day
  • Eating turkey and generally over-eating!
  • Attending a carol service

I realise that this Christmas some of those traditions I’ve just listed are not possible in person this year because of Coronavirus restrictions in place in your area, but hopefully you have still been able to either continue some of your family traditions (maybe via social media), or have taken the opportunity to start a new tradition.

In my house, we have a tradition of starting the Christmas season by watching one of our favourite Christmas films together. We don’t always watch the same film, however I have realised that for the last few years we have chosen the same film to start our festive season, and that is the film Elf – it’s one of our favourites!

If I were to ask you to tell me in the comments what your favourite Christmas film is, I’m sure we’d find a lot of different films would be listed as there are usually lots of new films released each year, never mind all the classic Christmas films which I’m guessing we’ve all watched a number of times.

The reason I have mention films, is because I came across a DVD of one of my Mum’s favourite Christmas films recently, the classic ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ starring James Stewart. This in turn got me wondering what life would have been like, if the very first Christmas had never happened. To explain my thinking to those of you who have never seen the film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, here’s a very short summary of the main story line:

James Stewart plays George Bailey who along with his uncle, has inherited the Bailey Brothers’ Building and Loan, saving it from takeover by the banker. He builds affordable housing for local residents, again annoying his local business rival. Then a few years later on Christmas Eve, George’s uncle misplaces the $8000 that was due to be paid to the bank for the building and loan, meaning George knows he will probably go to jail. So on that snowy night he heads out in desperation, uncertain what to do, and gets drunk and into a fight. Wishing he had never been born, he  comes to a bridge and considers committing suicide.

But then, instead of committing suicide he finds himself ‘rescuing’ Clarence Oddbody from the water. We discover Clarence is an angel, and so when George tells him he wishes he’d never been born, Clarence grants his wish to see what the world would have looked like if he never been born.

Through the rest of the film we discover that George’s life has had a significant impact on his family, friends and community, and, had he never been born, other people’s lives would have been much worse.

I wonder what life would have been like for us if Jesus had never been born, and that first Christmas had not happened? Maybe this quote may help you consider the impact Jesus’ birth has had on the world, and on you.

It is impossible to conceive how different things would have turned out if that birth had not happened whenever, wherever, however it did … for millions of people who have lived since, the birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it. It is a truth that, for twenty centuries, there have been untold numbers of men and women who, in untold numbers of ways, have been so grasped by the child who was born, so caught up in the message he taught and the life he lived, that they have found themselves profoundly changed by their relationship with him.

Frederick Buechner

Have you ever considered what your life would have been like if Jesus had never been born?

Has your life been “profoundly changed” by your relationship with Christ?

The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognise him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

John 1:9-14 (New Living Translation)

At this time of year when we get caught up in our Christmas traditions, it can be so easy to lose sight of the reason we celebrate the season. I pray that this year, however you are celebrating Christmas, you are not only able to continue at least some of your Christmas traditions, but that you also remember the impact Jesus has had on your life, and celebrate how different your life is because of His birth.

'Tis the Lord, O wondrous story!
'Tis the Lord, the King of glory;
at his feet, we humbly fall,
crown him, crown him Lord of all!

I hope you enjoy and are blessed by our principal euphonium player and YP band leader Chris Shanks, as he plays ‘Who Is he?’

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