Why do some Christians lack joy at the time of our greatest celebration: Christmas?

Is it Good News of a great joy that will come to all people, as the angel said?

I hope you had a joyous Christmas. It should be the season of joy for Christians of all people. I have written about reasons to celebrate this season, whatever your religion or lack of one. I have also written about happiness and why Christians should be happier than anyone, at least most of the time. So why do some Christians find Christmas difficult?

Six things that can take away your joy.
  1. You can get too busy and feel so much pressure like anyone else, but for Christians it’s worse because we’ve got to fit all that church activity in on top of family, work, parties and all the rest of it.
  2. You can feel guilty when you are challenged by seasonal appeals from charities. You want to help them all but you can’t.
  3. You are aware of many people who find this a difficult time, because of family tensions, money problems, sad memories. Can you avoid being insensitive, without becoming to be gloomy?
  4. You feel frustrated at the secularisation and commercialisation of Christmas.   Was there once a time when it wasn’t like this? You don’t know how to relate to people for whom this is the time to spend lots, eat lots and get drunk often.
  5. You feel guilty for joining in too much with the above and being too much like everyone else.
  6. Even in church, you’ve heard all the readings and carols so often it’s hard  to feel the excitement you think you should.
A preacher, preaching - do sermons result in joy for you?
A preacher, preaching – do sermons result in joy for you?
What can you do to get some joy?

If any or all of these apply to you, remember:

  • You are human. He knows our frame. He knows we are but dust. (Psalm 103 v 14). Remember that other people are human too.
  • It’s OK to fit in sometimes. Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.
  • The birth of Jesus is such a great event that no celebration of it can be wrong or too much, even the secular elements.
  • If it seemed stale, pray for just some small part of it, a line from a carol, a bit of a sermon, a verse from the Bible  to come alive for you. Then hold onto it.
What joy have I found this Christmas, so far?

Like a lot of people, I have found the dark, dull, damp days depressing. Things got a bit on top of me a week or two ago. Then I read the Christmas story in the version of the Bible we use for Open the Book. Something I have written about previously. It’s the Lion Storyteller Bible. The Christmas story is told in a “Good News – Bad News” format. I noticed that the angels always gave good news, but the bad news came from people. I saw how easy it is to see things from one perspective. I prayed for God to show me his perspective on a few things. Even though I haven’t yet got tidy answers, I feel joyful. I know there IS another way of looking at things.

So stop beating yourself up. God loves you!

Are you in the mood for the Christmas (“festive”) season?

Are you in a jolly mood?

In a miserable mood? Does the news depress you? Is the weather getting you down? Does this lift your mood:

Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la, la la la la la

Oh, so you’ve not got a hall and you’ve seen the price of holly.

‘Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la etc

You’ve nothing to be jolly about? Really? Be ready for jollity to descend on you, like it or not. Like this:

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,

You can’t stand the mindless jingles they play in supermarkets, precincts and lots of other places. Try a church. Some of them play decent music and it’s usually got meaningful words.

Oh what fun it is o ride on a one-horse open sleigh!

No. I’ve no idea what it’s like to ride in a one-horse open sleigh and I certainly can’t say I’d find it FUN. Find something you’d prefer, like watching old movies or reading Sunday supplements. Whatever.

Are you in a generous mood?

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat

Not keen on goose? Prefer turkey? Well, Christmas is coming anyway. You can’t say nobody’s warned you. It’s been coming since before Guy Fawkes Day, according to the shops. Get ready.

Please put a penny in the poor man’s hat?

I know! You’re fed up with charity appeals and if you put a penny in every poor man’s hat you came across, you’d end up broke and joining them. Be fair. You’re not as badly off as a lot of people. Spare something to give to someone or some charity. You must agree with some good causes, surely?

Are you in a thoughtful mood?
Doubt and faith are related, whatever your religion or lack of
Doubt and faith are related, whatever your religion or lack of

Are you in the mood for a proper Christmas carol?

While shepherds watched their flocks by night, all seated on the ground, the Angel of the Lord came down and glory shone around,

You don’t buy into all this angels, glory, wise men, virgins and all that? Not too keen on shepherds anyway? Can’t even give it the benefit of the doubt? Have you tried looking beyond the imagery at the real story?

Glad tidings of great joy I bring to you and all mankind.

Nothing to bring you joy in the angel’s message? Does the birth of Jesus not give you cause to rejoice? The carol, and the Bible, says “all mankind” – this great joy is not just for Christians.

How about these reasons to get into the right mood:
  • For a Christian…enough said already.
  • For a Jew: Jesus was Jewish and lived in Israel. He is the most famous and popular Jew ever. Whatever has been done in his name, he loved his fellow-countrymen.
  • For a Moslem: Jesus/Iesu is a person revered in Islam. “The Spirit of God”. Is his birth not a cause for celebration, even if you don’t accept him as more than that?
  • For a Hindu: is not Jesus one of the religious figures you worship? Is his birth not cause for celebration, even if you can’t accept his uniqueness?
  • For a humanist: are Jesus’ teachings not important? Are they not the basis for a lot of good deeds? Can you not celebrate his birth as that of an important historical figure, even if you deny his divinity?
  • For anyone who doesn’t give a **** about any of that: well, OK – it’s as good an excuse for a party as any other. Make the most of it!

Whatever your mood, remember: Christmas IS coming. Enjoy it. Get into the mood!

Here’s my Christmas gift to you – Accounting for Murder, Double Entry

How do you get this gift?

As I said in my last blog, my gift is my detective novel, Accounting for Murder, Double Entry. It is available free on Kindle this week, from Monday 18th to Friday 22nd December. Read it over Christmas and be ready for the sequel, Accounting for Murder, Old Money, coming soon. Buy both as a gift for someone for Easter? Go to the link below on Monday.

Do you want a free detective story at Christmas?

Is the real story, why I have not published the sequel yet?

My second detective story, Accounting for Murder, Book II, Old Money, will not be published before Christmas. There have been various delays and now I am re-rewriting it. They say anyone can write a book (!) but the skill is in rewriting, to get rid of all the faults. I am also working on another non-fiction book, about Risk Management. My second detective mystery will probably be out early in the New Year.  I hope you will find the wait worthwhile.

What books are you getting for Christmas?

If you have not yet read Accounting for Murder, Book I, Double Entry, now could be a good time, so you’ll be ready for the sequel. Anyway, you want a new detective story to read during the Christmas holidays, don’t you?

I am giving you an extra Christmas present this year. For a few days before Christmas, you will be able to get Accounting for Murder, Book I, Double Entry free on Kindle. Watch for details of the dates.

My first detective story, Accounting for Murder, Book I, Double Entry, will be free for a few days coming soon.
My first detective story, Accounting for Murder, Book I, Double Entry, will be free for a few days coming soon.

 

A big thankyou to those who voted for the St Paul’s Church grant bid or gave money

What grant?

Remember my post asking for votes and/or money to help finish this project? Aviva give grants to community projects based on the number of votes made on their website. The project is to build a new church and centre in and for the community in Penketh, Warrington.  We didn’t get quite enough votes to win the grant from Aviva we were after. But thanks for trying anyway.

It isn’t only about the grant

Thanks also if you are one of the people who gave money. Of course, we are still trying to raise the (nearly) 100,000 pounds we need. You can give on the donations website. 

A lot of work had been done by volunteers and by contractors since I last wrote, but there’s plenty to do before we can use the building.

A view of the part of the interior that will be the main worship and 'big meeting' area. that the grant would have enabled us to finish.
A view of the part of the interior that will be the main worship and ‘big meeting’ area that the grant would have enabled us to finish.
The outside of the building, facing away from the road. The exterior landscaping works will hopefully be done by volunteers
The outside of the building, facing away from the road. The exterior landscaping works will hopefully be done by volunteers