Why Keep Christ in Christmas?

Around this time of year Christians are often encouraged to sign up in one form or another to a campaign to "keep Christ in Christmas." Depending on how contrarian I am feeling I will either endorse such a campaign or seek to debunk it... A key factor is often whether the campaign has any sense of humour...
One of my virtual friends who is consistently humorous (and I frequently laud her as such at this time of year in my VM Awards, which may or may not make an appearance this year depending on whether I can be bothered) is WhyNotSmile. Last week Mrs Smile took on an atheist campaign that, Grinch-like, seeks to take Christ out of Christmas... There isn't a lot of humour in her response, a lot of her characteristic wit, but not much to laugh out loud at... Instead there is a depth of feeling that is important to hear in the run up to this "season to be jolly..." Let me quote a huge chunk of her piece where she says why she needs Christ at Christmas even more than at other times of year (but don't just read this bit - read the whole thing here):
  • I need Christ because Christmas fills me with dread. At the darkest, coldest, most difficult time of the year, I'm expected to be merry and bright; I'm expected to go to parties; when all I want is the safety of bed and quiet and warm...
  • I need Christ because I often don't like myself; I hear criticism where none is meant; I hear sarcasm and anger when I need gentle words and compassion; and every time the fear rises and the anxiety comes and I need Christ because, Oh God, I don't want to cut again, but I need to let the feelings out...
  • I need Christ because I don't always love my husband as well as I could; because love is not a feeling, but a series of choices, and a lot of the time I need help to make the right one.
  • I need Christ because I've made mistakes this year. I've hurt, I've lied, I've let down, I've judged, I've condemned. My best efforts have missed the mark. I need Christ because I need to hear "You're forgiven. You will always be forgiven. And you will overcome."
  • I need Christ because I've been lied to, I've been let down, I've been betrayed and abandoned, and I need to hear "I am with you always".
  • I need Christ because my friends have been beaten, abused, raped, cheated, widowed; they've had miscarriages and cancer and depression; they've been hurt and belittled and seen their dreams ripped up and their stories trampled. I need Christ because I need to be able to say "There is healing; there is hope; there is peace and joy and love for those who cannot even dare to imagine it".
  • I need Christ because my friends have cheated, lied, stolen; they've had affairs, fought, and gossiped, and I need Christ because I need to be able to say "There is redemption and restoration, and there is forgiveness and there is reconciliation, and sin is never the most powerful thing".
  • I need Christ because all the willpower in the world can't make me less afraid or more patient or give me any hope of transformation. As Robbie Williams sang, "You can't manufacture a miracle", and yet, a miracle is exactly what I need to hope for, in my life, and in my friends' lives, and it would be nice to have a machine to churn out miracles on demand, but instead I can only hope and pray and hold on to the promises with the tiny grain of faith that keeps living when it should have died.
Yesterday morning we in Belfast South Methodist affirmed our commitment to Christ's coming Kingdom of Joy, while last night we stood in solidarity with those who have lost loved ones recently... The two are not incompatible... This is the season of comfort and joy... Comfort which is not "there, there it will all be alright" but a coming alongside people when it isn't alright and offering them the strength to push on... and a joy which isn't rib-tickling hilarity, but assurance that even in the midst of despair there is hope... 
And that comfort and joy is ours through Christ...
So have a joyful Christmas when it comes...
Shalom

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