We often live in a fantasy world. The world of advertising and media all around us feed us this idea of what life could and should be life, if only we had this product or that amount of money, or if we held a certain status – especially at this time of year. We all know of course that this is never going to happen to us, that we’ll never be rich, famous, or even have the real happiness that we always see in the movies.
Well we do don’t we?
Maybe it’s just me, but often I can get caught up in these ideals of what life is about. As a writer it’s easy to daydream – in some ways, it’s part of the job. But it’s so easy to get caught up inside your own fantasies of what you’d like your life to be, and I don’t think it’s just writers who do this.
I think we all do, whenever we watch a film or tv programme, or when we go out, or even when we’re browsing the internet. We can get lost in this other world inside our heads, but the result can be that our real lives suffer greatly.
Real life isn’t as easy as the fantasy. It involves patience, hard work, time, difficult decisions, facing consequences and self-discipline. It means not just talking good lives, but actually living them.
Life is hard.
Life can be painful.
Life is a mixture of highs and lows and a range of different emotions. We spend a lot of our lives trying to avoid these, but they happen to us all.
Denial is one of the biggest problems with the human condition, and our culture encourages it. One of the reasons many of us like to indulge in denial – and I am no different to anyone else, I’m an expert at denial – is because if we have to face up to the reality of the world we live in and the issues going on in our lives, we are afraid we’ll fall apart. We’re afraid we’ll have to face up to these things and we’ll be alone, that no one will be there to catch us.
This brings me neatly on to Christmas.
Now I don’t generally get too excited by what presents I’m going to get, or by the whole consumer idea of Christmas, or even by the whole tradition surrounding it. Maybe it’s because I grew up in church, but Christmas for me has always been about Jesus birth. Presents are merely a symbol for me, we give them because Jesus was God’s gift to us, and we want to recognise and celebrate that by giving gifts to those we love.
I explained this to someone who wasn’t a Christmas once and they were taken aback. They confessed that they’d never before known why we gave presents at Christmas, that they’d never even thought about it. (How scary is that?)
But Christmas provides the answer to denial.
It means that we don’t have to deny what’s going on in our lives and in our world. We can face up to reality with a hope that actually delivers. It doesn’t make these things go away, but when we’re in authentic Christian community, with everyone supporting and serving one another, then it makes them more tolerable. I
t means we can go through the darkest moments and still come out with hope – hope that is grounded not somewhere else, but here. Hope that’s grounded in the fact that God has not left us alone but has come to us and become one of us, and suffered more than any of us so we can know Him – and so that we can start to make things new again, restore things to how they were always planned to be, bring heaven to earth, bring a new creation into the midst of the old.
Hope is the gift of Christmas.
Hope that delivers.
Christmas says that hope is real and has a name – and that name is Jesus.
It says that we don’t have to live in denial, but can safely bring all our insecurities and fears into the open knowing we are not alone. We can truly celebrate at Christmas because we’re not alone, we haven’t been abandoned, but God has come to us.
For me the knowledge I’m not alone in my fears and insecurities, knowing that God has come in person to save me and help me, feels a whole lot better than any other gift.
This Christmas remember that hope is real, hope is here & hope has a name. Jesus.
Have a blessed Christmas.
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