“Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat,
please put a penny in the old man’s hat,
if you haven’t got a penny a halfpenny will do,
and if you haven’t got a halfpenny then God bless you”.
Each of us has memories of what Christmas was like when we were children. No doubt some of you remember singing in School and Church, perhaps playing a role as shepherd, Mary, Joseph, Wiseman etc. in the nativity play, or some other memory which makes you smile. As we sing Christmas Carols in Church, I often find myself not having to look at the hymn sheet or screen because I remember singing them as a Child and listening to my mother sing them as we journeyed along in the car or as she worked in our family kitchen at home preparing for Christmas. For me, these are happy memories and ones which I shall always cherish and thank God for.
However, it seems to me these days, the real meaning of Christmas is being forgotten. Some Children, even in this community of Strabane, don’t know what Christmas is really about. To them, Christmas is about trees, presents, Santa, Pantomimes, School Productions etc. There is nothing shared about the Christmas Story. The words ‘Merry Christmas’ are being replaced with more secular terms such as ‘Seasons Greetings’.
So the challenge before us all this year is to put Christ back into Christmas. Without Him it would just be like any other day. Let us encourage ourselves, our families and friends to come to Church as we recall the Christmas Story and sing the familiar carols.
In her 2012 Christmas Message Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II suggests our response to meaning of Christmas by using the words of the carol ‘In the bleak midwinter’ –
“What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him: give my heart.”
As I finish I want to echo the last three words of the poem I learnt many years ago and say may ‘God bless you’ and yours this Christmas Season.