PCN Newcastle: 'The real meaning of Christmas'...?'

Smudge marks had hardly appeared on Fenwick’s Christmas window display when PCN Newcastle met up to chew the fat and talk turkey. Or, turkeys really, because what was up for discussion was the gulf between Christmas at its crassly pointless worst and the ‘Ideal’ Christmas that we all recognise, and that many of us will enjoy. As progressive Christians, we asked ourselves, how do we go about discriminating between the best and the rest?

Well, firstly, by discarding all the unnecessary bits. Jeff Fides, leading our discussion, drew attention to the general absence of Biblical authority governing many of our most cherished Christmas beliefs and customs. Cheerfully acknowledging Christmas to be at least in part a hijacked pagan winter festival, we gave ourselves plenty of latitude for excessive mince pie consumption!

Secondly, by chilling out and calming down. Faces around the table nodded and grew wistful as the group touched on memories. Time spent with friends and family. Carol singing with neighbours in the dark street. Sharing food. A slow pace or a still place for touching base. The symbols that speak wordlessly of Love and Peace.

Finally, by caring for each other. One member pointed out that the promises of Christmas delivered only a bitter-tasting irony to many people in our society. He preferred instead to celebrate the season of Advent and its emphasis on preparation for a better world. Another spoke of the explosion of human potential as rehearsed through the Incarnation. Another suggested that Christmas - as the point at which our various individual stories and habits converge - is our best stab at collectively articulating a dream or a vision for which there are no words.

The discussion ended with a brief comment from everyone, sharing aspects of the conversation that had provoked particular responses. There was a lot of laughing. The night was dark and cold outside but, as we headed home, we turned and wished each other a very happy Christmas.

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