There is so much out this year about keeping to the spirit of Christmas and reducing the emphasis on BUYING STUFF and GIVING STUFF.
Apparently we're also being urged to emphasise the HOPE that we as churches/Christians can offer and this ties in with what I've been watching today. It is my Christmas tradition to watch the Muppet Christmas Carol. Yes not the highest level of culture ever achieved some might argue BUT I would say that it does exactly what we need to be doing wiht our Christian message. It presents DICKENS which can be rather dry and old fashioned in a fresh and engaging way without changing the central core of the story or the heart of the message. It even encourages viewers to read the book at the end!
For me there is a tiny additional tradition which is crying at one particular point (not the soppy lovey dovey bit - to be honest that often gets fast forwarded!!). No, for me, the moment when Scrooge receives his first Christmas gift is THE MOMENT. Beaker & Dr. Bunsen Honeydew as the people looking for charitable donations had met Scrooge before when he refused them a donation and he finds them and pledges a vast donation to make up for all those missed in the past. These are the first people to really see the transformation and Beaker's response humbly offers him a gift - the scarf from around his own neck and the warmth that no doubt went with it. This man who has been transformed demonstrates such great humility in receiving the gift. The scarf is the sacrament if you like. He has been transformed by the visit of the spirits and then, in wearing the bright red scarf around his neck, that transformation is shown to the world.
How many hard hearts could we soften if we demonstrated this kind of transformative generosity?