Faith Viewpoint 19 December 2019

The celebration of the Christmas story, mixed up here in the Northern hemisphere with winter folk lore, has evolved into a mass of contradictions. Spending on luxuries but an emphasis on major charitable appeals and giving; family gathering and family warring; journeys to try again to mend relationships and journeys to run away; joyful singing and raucous drinking; the homeless family and eat, drink and be merry.

The stories of the birth of Jesus in the New Testament might lead us to reflect on our own times. The times are described as uneasy: an occupying power demands that all participate in a census and brutal repression hovers near. There is a massacre of boy children to pre-empt rumours of a challenger to authority. Religious leaders nervously compromise with a colonial power. There are tentative yearnings for different ways to live and organise.

So what about this special season featuring songs of good will to all and a wondrous gift being given? Why do we have “special” days? This year in Cumbria we have observed many special days, some of great sadness and solemnity, some of joy, and some special to a range of different faith groups. Quakers try to be open to the special nature of every new day with its potential to experience the rebirth in each of us of Spiritual Presence, showing us a way to live, a path to follow.

May our Christmas help us all to give and to receive, comfort and joy, a light on the path of life.

~ Jane Chattell of Kendal Quaker Meeting