At Christmas I find myself wondering why people don’t get Christianity; why they don’t rush to it for the reality it offers which is far richer than any brandy-sodden fruit cake.
Surely it should have been so simple. Jesus was a good man, a prophet and social agitator. He wanted the poor to get a better deal, and to release them from religious laws. Hasn’t the Church lost sight of this? Hasn’t everything got way too complicated? Just too religious? Why talk of God becoming human? Why can’t things be kept simple?
Christmas points to a mystery that is both deep and simple. We say that God becomes human in Jesus because Jesus’ life is so selfless and transformative that Christians quickly recognized that what they saw in Jesus was the clearest possible image of the invisible God.
The Church teaches that if you attach yourself to Jesus, you plant yourself in the deepest and only reality there is. He is more real than houses and cars; more real than a smoke of this or a drink of that. He is more real even than human love, though human love is the best way we have of exercising God’s love. We can grow more like God by giving ourselves, like Jesus, in the self-forgetful service of each other.
And what is there not to like in that? How can people bear to keep away? Why would we avoid reality for ourselves, and justice and fairness for all? Answer: because it’s hard. It means looking at ourselves and the world honestly, and deciding to make sacrifices. It means choosing Path A over Path B because Path A is better.
Luckily the Church provides Christians as a cast-iron excuse for staying away from God. Christians are always revealing their paid-up membership of the human race, and are easy to dismiss as fools and hypocrites.
But that easy dismissal won’t help to fill the hole in your own heart, or to deal with all the deep-down stuff that’s doing your head in.
For these and other matters, God’s your man. You’ll find him sleeping and stirring, a little lump of human life, in a crib near you, this Christmas. All you have to do is turn up.
In Croydon, you’d be warmly welcomed at St Andrew’s, Southbridge Road CR0 1AG. Why not come to our School and Community Carols on Tuesday 20th at 7pm? Or bring the kids to be a Living Crib on Christmas Eve at 3pm? Or come to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve at 11.30pm. Or Christmas Morning at 10am. Whatever you do or don’t do, have a very happy Christmas.