I noticed that the headlines on the front pages of a number of today's (23 November) newspapers were celebrating the likelihood of Covid restrictions being lifted to some extent for the Christmas holiday season. The Prime Minister seemed to confirm the papers were right in their optimism when, in his statement to Parliament this afternoon, he said that although it will not be a normal Christmas we should be able to see more of our families and friends than has been permitted lately. Let's hope so, it will indeed be a relief and something to look forward to for many...
The headline on the frontpage of the Daily Express really caught my eye - 'It's official: Christmas is saved! Families able to meet for 5 days of festive cheer', said the piece by its Deputy Political Editor. Whether that turns out to be accurate remains to be seen of course. In our secular nation, it may come as a surprise to many that Christmas could have any significance other than being a midwinter holiday - a time to relax, perhaps exchange gifts, but definitely to enjoy a break, good food, drink and festivities, while spending the time with family and friends. For those who are able to do so, then the relaxation of restrictions will be good news. The 'saving' of Christmas by our collective efforts to suppress the virus will mean a lot to many.
But what struck me about the Express's headline was its (I assume unintended) irony. It may be that the winter holiday will be saved by our efforts against the spread of Covid, but the true significance of Christmas lies not in a holiday but concerns our salvation, it is we who need saving! This is the season in which Christians recall the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, into the world that He made in order to be the Saviour of the world. To save us from what? From sin, which is a far more perilous enemy than any disease and affects every single one of us. The real cause for celebration and rejoicing is when someone is saved by Jesus, when someone (you?) trusts in Him to save them (you?) from their (your?) sins. Not 'Christmas is saved!' but 'I am saved!' - now that really would be a headline.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas I shall write here about this best of all news, 'God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life' (John 3:16). We'll also post details of our Christmas and New Year meetings. It is going to be very different in what we are able to do, but the message of Jesus Christ has not and will not change.