Christmas: Open Ended Expectation
There is nothing wrong with enjoying Christmas, or indeed with a little over-indulgence. At any rate, there is nothing Christian about embodiments of Scrooge masquerading as piety. What matters is that we remember why we are enjoying it. We’re not, or not chiefly, remembering a past event. We’re sharpening our hope and expectation of how that event is continuing to play itself out, into the future. In Advent we pray with the threats of John the Baptist and with Isaiah’s book of consolations. We work with our projections of what might happen; we inhabit all the hopes and fears that are eventually to meet in Bethlehem. But we also need to recognise that they are just projections, however hallowed they may be by their position in Scripture. John the Baptist in his prison cell is eventually confronted with a Christ rather less stern then he had proclaimed. We do not know how the grace of God will work itself out; all we can do is to pray in openness, and in joyful hope.