BBC Radio Leicester Thought for the Day
© John Denney 21 December 2005
I love Christmas. All the traditions: the tree, the tinsel, the carols, roast chestnuts, mince pies, crackers, the giving and receiving of cards and gifts, and most of all, I love getting together with my family and friends and just – chilling out, I think the word on the street is these days. In my family, we have a rule that we don’t watch television on Christmas Day itself, although we have been known to video one or two for later consumption. So we’ve got several years’ worth of The Great Escape and Murder on the Orient Express in our video cabinet. What we do, when we’ve recovered from the lunch, is to play games. One of our sons usually prepares a quiz with forfeits for incorrect answers. I shudder at the remembrance of the time my forfeit was to lope around the street in front of our house imitating a chimpanzee.
We play board games as well. One of our favourites is Cluedo – you know, Miss Scarlett in the Conservatory with the Lead Piping. I think that this will count as First Degree murder, if the Law Commission’s suggestions for murder law reform get accepted.
Throughout history, murder is universally regarded as the worst of all crimes. Right at the beginning of the Bible, there is a story about the two sons of Adam and Eve. Cain, the arable farmer, murdered his brother Abel, the herdsman, because he thought that God didn’t favour him as much as Abel. What’s interesting is that God didn’t kill Cain in retribution, but made him eke out his existence in shame, detested by everyone.
Christmas is a time of celebration of what we call the incarnation – when God came to earth as the baby, Jesus. But the timber of the manger was the same timber he would fashion as a carpenter. And the timber he worked with would be used to make the scaffold on which Jesus would die. Thirty years after the angels and Magi worshipped the infant Christ, at the moment Jesus was being killed for political reasons, he didn’t call down retribution on those who were killing him. No, he called on his heavenly Father to forgive them.
So the message of Christmas is the message of God’s forgiveness, Peace to all men and women on earth who please God. Happy Christmas.