Imaginary Lines daydreaming for beginners

Christmiss

Many folk willingly come to a church but once a year. Not Easter: far too gory and weird. No, they come at Christmas (chiefly to the Carol Service). We all come with numerous, complex, and (often) conflicting expectations.

Despite these various expectations there is, I think, an underlying wish that wonder and mystery will be encountered; senses engaged; perhaps, just perhaps, some connection glimpsed. These folks almost universally stay away after the Christmas encounter.

Why?

Well, what do I know? No idea really: but I do have a sense of something wrong. We Christians tell our story, but we tell it badly. To a Jew, hearing it again, the story of Covenant Redemption is presented in a continuum of family. The stories are familiar and embedded in the life of the community, life around the table: nothing jarring, nothing unexpected. Shalom made pregnant and present.

Yet we Christians assume this Story is already known and understood by all who enter our doors. This is nonsense. Not only that but we offer a version plagued with Augustinian rhetoric designed to quench the spirit and suggest the big bad god will come and get you. For goodness sake, why is the Western Church still peddling Original Sin?

I actually wonder if we really do know how to tell it. Our policy is to plough on as we think we know it, or as we think it ought to be known. Shout loud and hope ears will hear. But I for one don't think it works — ever.

So, what? Let's keep the carols and the wonder (maybe getting the gender issues normalised), let's keep the candlelight and sparkly tree. Let's even have some singable new carols.

But, let's find ways of telling God's wonderful, graceful Story as a one that is relevant to those who come expectantly. I should rather tell The Story in terms of Journey from/to. Exodus from Eden; from Egypt; from Exile; from expiration; towards emancipation.

Who knows, some might begin a journey.