There is an audio recording of this blog post for those that prefer it, or you can just carry on reading below, the text is the same.
Thinking of Christmas brings with it lots of traditions – both general traditions everyone would recognise, but also family traditions built up over years.
For most of you even now there are things coming to mind that you remember from being young, things your family always did.
What are the first things that come to mind?
Was it part of the preparation for Christmas, or for things on the day itself?
One of my memories is the making of the Christmas Puddings.
This was not something my mum did when I was a child. We bought one in those days and although we would eat it, it was not something my mum liked, and most of us were not overly keen.
HOWEVER that all changed once I knew my future husband and his family. His mum always made Christmas puddings, lots of them, and I loved the smell of them being mixed and then cooked when I visited his home. These puddings were not like the shop bought dark heavy pudding that we usually bought, but a lighter, spongy and, in our opinion, altogether delicious variety.
The recipe itself was a traditional one. When I first got the copy, typed on an old typewriter by Jeremy’s sister, it was headed up “great great grandma Skelton’s Christmas pudding”. I still have the copy – kept in a book with other recipes accumulated over the years.
When we were married later, making the puddings became a loved tradition in our family.
In October, at half term, I would collect together all the ingredients and with the kids helping (4 of them eventually ) we would weigh and mix and then do the long steaming process to produce a whole row of Christmas puddings, just like I had seen Jeremy’s mum do. Some would be given away but we would have a largish one we would eat on 25th December and then on a few occasions afterwards – enjoyed by all of us.
Do you have traditions that are not really enjoyed but done anyway? Traditions can be old and stale, not meaningful anymore. Or maybe you never did enjoy Christmas. Maybe you would rather forget all the memories of that season.
For us believers, Christmas is, or should be, rooted in the story of the nativity. Jesus coming to earth, born as a baby in Bethlehem.
What does that do in your heart? Is it just dark, heavy and stodgy like the puddings I remember from childhood?
Or is it new and fresh, causing you to overflow with love and praise to our creator God who made the whole of the vast universe, and yet who loved us so much that he left heaven to come and live amongst us . . . and in the end die that we may live.
This Christmas, 2020, is not likely to be the same as Christmas usually is.
It is going to be difficult to “do the things we always do at Christmas” even if we want to.
With all the differences likely to be forced on us, it is maybe a time to make one change by our own choice.
To choose to leave behind the heaviness of the year, and maybe even the heaviness of Christmases past.
To look again at the wonder of Jesus.
Such a wonder that all the host of heaven filled the skies, unable, on that night, to contain their ecstatic praises as a baby, the Son of God, was born in a manger in Bethlehem.
Will you join them?
Do you catch it?
Does your heart respond?
Make some time
If it doesn’t then can I suggest this year that you make some time to seek it out?
In amongst all the other ‘stuff’ that you may be doing, that you find some time, make time even, to stop and seek the truth of Him who came for YOU that you may have life everlasting.
Just stop for a moment now and ask Him – ask for that peace, that joy, that relationship with the one true and eternal God.
If you ask – He WILL show you the way,
I promise you,
HE promised you – and not just once but right through the Bible – He was making sure we hear it,
that we get it,
that we don’t miss it.
Take a look at what it says in Deuteronomy
But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.Deuteronomy 4:29
and in Proverbs
I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.Proverbs 8:17
and in Jeremiah
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29:13
and it is not just the old testament – look in Matthew
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
and in Luke
So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
and you can go look up this longer explanation of God’s intentions in Acts 17:24-28 if you want to.
Convinced yet? Even if you aren’t, stop now and ask Him – He WILL hear you!
Want to make those puddings?
Even now, thinking about that rich fruity smell of the Christmas puddings is reminding me of the joys of an English Christmas and for me evoking good memories of Christmases gone past.
Thinking about writing this post this week I have ensured that I have all ingredients for puddings to hand – I have not made them like this since the year before we left for Mongolia.
Now is the time for me to do it again. Do you want to make some puddings? The hand-me-down recipe of the Skelton family is here if you would like to give it a try.
Don’t forget . . .
Don’t forget though – while you are weighing and stirring, let it stir in your heart a longing for the true Christmas, and remember, in amongst it all, to worship Jesus.
If you need a bit more help to do that – yesterday was the first in our series of blog posts on Christmas Carols – go take a look and listen to Matt and Sharon singing Hark the Herald angels sing – then make sure you join in!