When I was young people used to say, “Nostalgia eh? It ain't what it used to be”. It’s a shame really that no-one really laughs at that joke like they used to in the old days…..still we can always look back fondly and remember when they did.
In 2013 we have a strange relationship with the past. Culturally we indulge the twin habits of witheringly dismissing everything which has passed from contemporary fashion; be it, music, clothes or perhaps most poignantly ideas; while on the other hand immersing ourselves in repeated bouts of nostalgia-frenzy. So we mock the social attitudes of preceding generations while enjoying The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special, or assume a wry superiority to our grandparents parochialism while watching The Dam Busters, The Fifty Greatest Hits of the 1970s (not ‘arf), or maybe worst of all The 100 Greatest Moments from The Soaps.
Christmas seems especially prone to this tendency. (“Merry Kitschmas One and All, Ho Ho Ho!”) and the Christmas Card industry makes its millions with scenes of mulled-wine quaffing robins on holly in snow, at a medieval church, surrounded by be-scarffed carol-singing Edwardians. All this to provoke a dreamy longing for a mythical lost world of rural calm and security, to a generation who actually grew up in post-war suburbs.
The church has hardly been immune to having its gaze firmly fixed in the cultural rear-view mirror either. Maybe as Kitschma.., sorry, Christmas contains one the few remaining points of overlap between the church and wider society, we have been so busy milking it for opportunities to connect, that we have joined in distorting it. But celebrating the birth of Christ shouldn’t be about whimsically dreaming about a world lost; but about God’s announcement of a better one to come. Connecting with Him is supposed to be about having the past, which is full of sins and errors, forgiven and forgotten. It's not supposed to be about what we have lost, but about gaining eternal life from Christ; which arrives now, and stretches ever-on into the future.
"So, here it is Merry, wish it could be Christmas Every Day"
Merry Christmas and a Happy Everlasting Life. And may your chestnuts always roast on an open fire.