The shock news for us in recent days has been the announcement that, for the first time since 2005, Doctor Who will not be shown on Christmas Day! Ever since the programme was re-launched with Christopher Eccleston 13 years ago, Christmas Day has featured a star-studded seasonal episode. Instead, the special episode will go out on New Year’s Day. You may be able to think of more significant news items from recent weeks, but this is not quite as trivial as it might at first seem, because the watching of the Christmas Special is something which brings us together as a family. We have all been avid watchers of the programme through the 5 regenerations of The Doctor in the present era. For most people, Christmas comes with its traditions. Some will help us to express our shared commitment to make the season a special one, whilst some may weigh more heavily on us. As I write, it is still mid-November and the ‘Christmas spirit’ has not properly taken hold of me (for all the efforts of the shops to persuade me that I’m already leaving it a bit late!) How our family Christmas will take shape is still very much an open question. Doubtless there will be plenty of traditions that we will enjoy together. However, I wonder if we would do better sometimes to look for the ‘Christmas spirit’ not so
much in the traditions, as in the breaks to tradition. After all, the nativity story is packed full of unexpected moments, and things happening against the expected traditions of the age. That’s why the wise men end up in the wrong place, humble shepherds are the first witnesses to the Messiah’s birth, and it all happens hidden away in a backstreet in Bethlehem with an unmarried mum. God does seem to have a way of bypassing the very traditions which we might assume will help us find him. So in the gap that has now appeared in our Christmas schedule, perhaps we should reflect on how life’s crises are not all solved by the flash of a sonic screwdriver. Perhaps our call is to seek God in the present moment, rather than by dreaming of looping through the space-time continuum? What new things will you discover, in the midst of your traditions, of God’s coming among us in Jesus this Christmas?
Yours in Christ,