Laura was moving across the world for a few years, leaving her friends, family and home. It was her birthday just before she left and her friends threw her a big party – there were presents and balloons, tears and smiles. At the end of the night her friends made her a promise that each year she was gone they would have a party on her birthday and send her lots of pictures, letting her know they hadn’t forgotten about her.
Laura left and a whole year passed. As promised when it came around to her birthday her friends held a party. They invited everyone who knew Laura; they took pictures, videos, wrote cards to say they missed her and hoped to see her soon. It made her feel loved when she received their messages.
The next year the same thing happened, and the year after that, and the year after that. But by then many of Laura’s original friends had moved elsewhere; they were no longer able to make it to her birthday celebration. To fill the space and keep the party going her remaining friends invited people they knew. They had never met Laura but any excuse for a party was good enough for them. Her old friends wrote their messages quickly so as not to embarrass their new guests.
The next year the party was bigger and better than ever; everyone invited someone else and everyone brought food and drink and everyone was laughing and having fun. Someone hung up a banner saying ‘Happy 13th’.
“Happy 13th”, one guy asked looking at the banner, “I thought it was called Laura’s day or something?”
The guy beside him shrugged, “Who’s Laura?”
This is the sad reality today – we are celebrating a birthday and the one we are celebrating has been left out, cut off and forgotten. At Christmas people are so busy planning, decorating, buying, baking, cooking, wrapping, partying, eating, that they have forgotten what it’s all about; who it is all about. They have taken his name from the banner; now it’s just ‘Xmas’, ‘Crimbo’, ‘The Holiday Season’. Just as there was no room for him in the inn all those years ago, there is no room for him now in so many people’s Christmases. Jesus Christ, the greatest gift ever to be given to this world is pushed to the side lines, relegated to being only a character in children’s nativity plays. But he is so much more than that, as C.S Lewis, the Christian writer, once put it:
“Once in our world, a Stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.”
Christ, the Son of God, came as a baby in a manger, but he came to be our rescuer, our Saviour. He is the Almighty, the King of Kings, the creator and author of everything – how can we push someone so important aside?
This Christmas, let’s not get trapped in the tinsel and fairy lights; let’s celebrate who it is all about: let’s put Christ at the centre of Christmas again.