‘The tree is up. The guests are on their way. Everything’s going to be perfect. Or is it?’ That’s the question a Tesco email posed to me this morning. There are two answers, writes Buckingham rector Rev Will Pearson-Gee
One is that Christmas is not going to be perfect. Because we are fallible human beings, mistakes will be made – including forgetting some crucial items. That is despite the ‘don’t forget’ lists Tesco so thoughtfully provided me with! We retain, even at Christmas, an enormous capacity to mess up, to fall out with each other, to turn situations of glorious potential harmony into tragic actual disharmony.
The other answer is that the Christmas message is not about perfection being created. It is about God entering our imperfect world in surroundings of breath-taking imperfection. The birth of Jesus is God’s declaration of love for us precisely in those places where our messing up is most apparent. That’s why Jesus was not born in a five-star private hospital surrounded by a brilliant medical team needing no ‘don’t forgets’ list.
Rather He was born ‘away in a manger, no crib for a bed’. Rather He was born ‘with the oxen standing by’. Endless carols, nativity plays and cuddly animal Christmas decorations have built these harsh images into a picture of cosy perfection. They are anything but.
Rather they are declarations that God identifies with us all in the messiness of our imperfect world, of our imperfect natures, of our imperfect ambitions and of our imperfect relationships. God’s love reaches out to us in our imperfection.
God calls us, with the shepherds, to rejoice in this wonderful message of ‘good news of great joy that will be for all the people’. Jesus is God’s perfect answer. He is ‘the way, the truth and the life’.
If we have that on our ‘don’t forgets’ list then indeed, as my Tesco email also declared, ‘There is nothing better than Christmas’.