I’m happy to announce that Day One have just published my third book — The Coming of the Saviour-King — which is basically a collection of the daily pieces I did for Advent last year. If you’re interested, you can get a copy here. Below is an excerpt from the introduction to the book.
That Christmas has become commercialized, trivialized, tacky and secularized is probably a statement of the obvious. There is Santa. There is snow. There are reindeer. There are copious amounts of food. There is alcohol. There are the TV specials. There is the tinsel. There are the toys. Many things associated with the day are fine things. I have nothing against reindeer, and Christmas ought to be a feast day, a day of celebration.
But the problem is that these things now take centre stage. Just as there was no room for him at the inn and so he was shoved to one side to be born, so Christ has been shoved out of his central role in Christmas. Not only is this what Christmas now is for millions, but it is also deeply unfulfilling. How many times have you heard people say that Christmas was boring, or a bit of a let-down, disappointing or something similar?
Nor is this confined to non-Christians. As I see it, many Christians seem to pay lip service to Jesus at Christmas time, but again he is not really front and centre of the whole festival. Why is this?
Perhaps the main reason for it is that we have lost the sense of who Jesus really is. We start the story of Christmas with a baby in a manger, and so we fail to see who he really is and why he came into the world. If we grasp this, starting at the beginning of God’s narrative and working our way through, then, like the shepherds, we will be full of awe, and we will then inevitably celebrate ‘Christ’-mas, rather than just Xmas. And as we do so, all the other good things associated with the season and the day will fall into their rightful place, and it will be far more fulfilling.
A few years ago, my wife and I decided that if we are to celebrate Christmas, we ought to do so wholeheartedly, putting Christ at the centre and striving to make it a season of great joy. One of the ways we went about doing this was by making Advent stockings—twenty-plus small stockings hung on the wall with chocolates inside for the children to open every day (OK, so we put chocolates in for ourselves as well). But also within these stockings I included a Bible passage, with some connection to or prophecy about the coming of Christ, which I would then do my best to explain to the children around the meal table, asking them questions in order to generate discussion. And so Advent became for us not only a feast of fat things (chocolate), but, more than that, a Christ-centred feast of fat things.
As these readings became a habit over the years, I decided that I would write them down on my blog. Once this was completed, on 25 December 2016, it occurred to me that I had all the material for a book, and that I should have a go at getting it published in the hope that it might inspire others to really strive to make the season full of Christ. This is the book you have in your hands.
So let’s make the Christmas season Christ-centred once again. Let’s ditch the tackiness, the over-the-top commercialization, the triviality and the secularization, and let’s have a proper feast—one with plenty of food and drink and good things, but with Jesus Christ at the centre, filling us with great gladness and much rejoicing.