In a way I should not really be calling it a shock because I should have seen it coming. I mean to be honest I was a little bit suspicious something like this was going on behind the scenes. The other problem with this is you may be reading this on Christmas morning and I am not sure how suitable it is given the day that it is. Now having said that even though I have called it Santa Shock it’s not really about Santa at all. Actually it’s probably better called Christmas Shock. Oh I don’t know does that sound worse…. I mean who wants a Christmas shock.. Christmas surprise… yes, but not shock. I should say it’s nothing to worry about….I mean nobody is sick, it’s not bad news….at least not in the ordinary sense…

Let me explain. This is how it started. I was in getting my haircut and Andy was talking away telling me about some movie, but I could not help overhearing two women who were sitting reading magazines. One said ‘ I’m at the stage where I hate Christmas, such a big fuss, and for what?’ Her friend answered ‘ I know and it’s all about money , oh I wish it was over!’ Well I was interested in what Andy was saying but I felt I had been kicked in the stomach. Did she really say she hated Christmas? And as for wishing it was over? As I say I think that was the start of it. A few days after that I was in the Full Stop Cafe and I heard a few people at the table next to me putting forward the well worn argument that the whole ‘ Christmas thing’ was just for kids. Now believe it or not, and it does not happen often, I could hardly finish my sausage and bacon. Such a thing to say!

I can understand there are reasons why some people may not be looking forward to Christmas and indeed why some people may not enjoy it. It is hard to enjoy something when you, or indeed someone close to you, is sick. It is hard to enjoy Christmas when you are missing a loved one. Maybe we need to think about the words we use about Christmas. For the reasons I have just mentioned, and others, we may well not be up for much fun or be in form for a party but all of us, including, no actually especially, the sad, the sick and the lonely, as followers of Jesus, are called to celebrate Christmas. I will come back to this next week, I have just remembered I still haven’t told you about the shock.

As I said I should have seen it coming, and the conversations I overheard really were a very clear warning, but I think I can be a bit naive at times. Now please make sure you are sitting down for this and maybe a good strong cup of tea beside you. Here’s the shock. I met a man the other day who quite bluntly told me he did not believe in Santa. Now when he said it first I thought he was joking. Then he said it again. What was worse was his wife and her sister were with him, and they seemed really lovely, and I thought I was hearing things but they agreed with him. They too, almost laughing, like you would nearly think they were proud of the fact, that they do not believe in Santa!! To my absolute amazement I discovered over the next few days there are loads of people walking about, and whilst with some you might suspect it, with many you would never think that they are carrying the dark secret of disbelief. They are closet Santa Doubters!! This revelation has had such an impact on me that I am not fully recovered, but I realise that I need to address this here in the ‘Rumblings’.

When I was a child I absolutely adored Christmas. My parents made the crib a real focus. We even had a bit of fun with it, with the Wise Men travelling over the pelmet on the far side of the room gradually making it across the top of the television to the crib in time for 6th January. It was a time of real awe and Santa was really brilliant to us. I remember those fire engines that we got one year. I remember books and paints. I remember my sixshooter and my U.S. Marshal’s badge. I will never forget the train set, nothing very exotic but beautiful. I think our Dad, after his years on the old steam trains of the Great Northern Railways, got as much, and maybe more pleasure out of that train-set. Dad brought us on a tour of the cribs all over Belfast, on these lazy cold crisp days of the New Year. Later I learned in school about the origin of Silent Night. Later again I learned how the soldiers on both sides in the war had climbed out of the trenches to sing it.

What about now? What about Christmas now? Well I pray for snow? And I sing Christmas carols and mad Christmas songs constantly. I adore mince pies. I prefer the brown of the turkey and I love the ham. And I’m crazy about peas. I love Christmas in the Church. Adeste Fideles and Silent Night are my favourites. And Santa? Of course I believe in Santa. I know Santa comes. I never open a present before Christmas morning. I know he slips in quietly in the deep of Christmas Eve night. St. Nicholas. Spirit of Christmas and blesses my presents with the Presence of Jesus. The presents I will take the Christmas paper off I do look forward to, but I delight in his Presence at Christmas, presence of love, joy and peace. This is my prayer for each one of you.

Delight in his Presence. Happy Christmas!! xxx


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