We know the meaning of Christmas. We know that it all begins with Jesus. But lots of people don’t.

These days, many see Christmas as just a holiday, a reason to shop even more, to splash out and to get new things, or as a time to be alone or get anxious whilst others celebrate. But we know Christmas is so much more than that: even more of a reason to celebrate and to share the story.

Mark Russell, chief executive of the Church Army, believes society is trying to ‘air-brush Christ out of Christmas’. In the US, people exchange cards that say happy holidays, rather than Merry Christmas.

In Caversham and Mapledurham, we welcome hundreds to Advent and Christmas services, from school carol concerts to Midnight Mass. But what about the fifty percent who, according to surveys, think Jesus is irrelevant to their Christmas?

This year, we are joining in with countless other churches to be part of the campaign run annually by the ecumenical Churches Advertising Network. The Network’s adverts haven’t always met with universal acceptance but no churchgoer can argue with their current strapline – Christmas starts with Christ.

As a message, it may seem obvious, banal even. But perhaps not any more. If we are to take seriously Jesus’ great commission to make new disciples, there is no better opportunity for mission than our Christmas services. The first step is to remind people why we celebrate.

You won’t have missed the gift tag below. We’ll all be seeing a lot more of it. Throughout Advent and Christmas, a red tag and its important line will appear on our posters for carols, Christingles and other services; and on our parish Christmas Card. It will appear, in black and white, on pew sheets and wherever else it fits.

Working together, we are inviting our community to rediscover the true meaning of Christmas – that Christmas starts with Christ.

Mike Smith
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