So here we are in historic village of Buckden, where my son-in-law, Tim, is curate at St Mary’s, “the church for the A1.” A quick visit to do our grandparent duty and take Rose (#1) and Poppy (#7) to see Santa.
Thankfully Ana (#3), Joy (#4) and Zoe (#5) travelled from London to see us last week and so we were able to take them to the high-priced grotto at Liverpool One. That’s what grandparents do.
And then a quick dash back in good time for Santa’s visit to the Ministry Centre tomorrow afternoon, to accompany Kate (#2) and Tess (#6) on their annual visit. I’m not sure if Neve ( #8) is old enough at 12 weeks to savour the experience.
Santa clearly represents a huge theological dilemma to the thinking Christian, in fact to any thinking parent, even grandparent. And as I write these words I can feel the egg shells under my feet. One slip and I am on News at Ten.
Those of you who went on the parish weekend in 2007, “Preparing for Christmas”, may remember the short visual presentation given by David Gavin, the vicar of Cleos, our link church in Toxteth. In this all the Christmas paraphernalia gently nudge the baby Jesus to the margins and then out of the picture altogether. Santa clearly has something to answer for here!
The turning on of the Ormskirk lights each November is a festive occasion in which the clergy take a prominent part. Over the years I have shared the stage with some notable people – Jon Culshaw and this year Black Lace. This, of course, gives me celebrity status. But the one person we will not share the stage with is FC. Chris Jones, the vicar of Ormskirk, made this clear to WLBC some years ago – Christmas first and foremost is about Jesus. It is his day and only the star of Bethlehem is to be the star of the show.
This afternoon Mount Carmel have their carol service in church – and thanks to Gordon Greenwood for taking this service. Last year their presentation broke convention and included FC in their nativity line up. At the time I was not sure about this, mixing the Nativity with Santa – what we call in the trade “a category confusion.” However, what was powerful – at least to the eyes of a young child – was that Santa knelt before the baby Jesus and offered him his gift.
Once we acknowledge that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, then we can truly celebrate Christmas along with whoever happens to turns up, with or without his reindeers.