Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent Sunday reflection

Today is Advent Sunday. After weeks and weeks of Christmas stuff in some of the shops, Christmas lights going up and Christmas adverts, we are finally really into the Christmas season and these things are no longer jumping the gun.

Every year there are stories - most of them grossly exaggerated - of councils and employers discouraging or amending Christmas celebrations in order to avoid giving offence to religious minorities;.

This year the Chairman of the Equalities and Human Right commission has specifically called on people not to do this: David Isaacs asked for a "Common Sense" approach instead,

"Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right and it shouldn't be suppressed through fear of offending" he said the Commission has set out advice on how to deal with the practicalities of how to let those who wish to celebrate Christmas do so without offending others or discriminating.

He is absolutely right. The overwhelming majority of British Muslims, Jews, Hindus, members of other non-Christian religions and indeed atheists not only have no problem whatsoever with Christians celebrating Christmas, most of them enthusiastically take part in and enjoy those celebrations themselves.

I know plenty of Muslims and Jews and I have NEVER met a single believer in either faith or any other non-Christian religion who objects to the celebration of Christmas.

And as someone who tries hard to be a devout Christian I am sure that, despite all the commercialisation of Christmas and however much the secular celebration of that festival can obscure the real Christian message, I cannot believe that people of all faiths and none celebrating a season of peace, goodwill and happiness at the time Christians remember the birth of Jesus is something that He would object to.

The only people who are pleased when well meaning councils, employers, or official bodies try to play down or reinvent Christmas to "avoid giving offence" are far-right extremists, who delight in exploiting such actions to stir up nativism, racial hatred and a persecution complex.

Let Christmas be a season of peace and goodwill, as the early church intended but, surely, this is a message which people of all faiths and none can also sign up to.


Jim said...

you mean it was a pagan fesitival that the christians hi jacked and used it as convenient time for the birth of Jesus.

well ok, who cares.

Im am not for for not celebrating it, no way, in fact if it did not exist then at this time of year I would invent it.

Whilst i do fully agree with the spirit of your post, as in everyone join in, Its just a bit rich to be written as a "come and join our fesival" which of course is one that christianity nicked in the first place.

Chris Whiteside said...

Many societies have had some kind of midwinter celebration about the time of the winter solstice.

Therefore the main thing the Christian church nicked from the pagans in this instance was the date.

We don't know exactly when Jesus was born but it does appear to have been sometime in the winter.

The Christmas story is entirely Christian in origin, and indeed some of the social traditions around Christmas also have Christian origins - for example Father Christmas aka Saint Nicholas grew out of the legends around a Christian Bishop of Myra who lived about 1500 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Are the 3 wise men entirely Christian?

Jim said...

not fully, there is one astronomical explanation for this one. on december 25th the 3 stars of Orions belt (known as the 3 kings) form a line with Sirius (a very bright star) if you follow this line down to the horizon that is the exact place the sun will rise on christmas morning.

"So you see, a bright star, leads the 3 kings to the birth of a new sun (son)"

in many religions and gods born on 25 Dec, three kings, or wise men, or 3 distinguished people visit the new born, and all were guided by a star.

Jim said...

To quote Mrs Brown - "a lot of the bible is made up, it has to be as it would only be a Pamphlet otherwise. Take the three wise men, I mean 'wise'? - they got ******* lost"

Chris Whiteside said...

The story that a group of travellers visited the baby Jesus comes from the Gospel of St Matthew.

My copy of the bible (New English Version) describes them as "Astrologers" though they have also been called "wise men" or "Magi."

St Matthew's gospel does not say how many visitors there were (the tradition that there were three of them appears to have been assumed because they brought three specific gifts.) There is no evidence that they were of royal blood, though the fact that they went to Herod first suggests they may have been of a tradition which associates royalty and divinity.