Christmas in Community
Are we going to your family again this year? How many days is your father staying? Why am I by myself when everyone else is celebrating?
Even if we spend the rest of the year trying to be individuals in control of our own lives, at Christmas we cannot escape our links with other people. At Christmas we become very aware of community.
Being reminded that we are connected with other people (whether we like it or not) can be a very positive thing. There are times when, like the newborn baby, we depend utterly on the people around us to keep us going. There are also times when we feel the deeply human satisfaction of being needed by someone else.
Yet, being in community has negative aspects too. We might feel we have to compete with the people around us. Or they may have expectations of us that we resent. Sometimes we don’t like the other people in our community, but we have no choice about living alongside them.
Christmas reminds us of both positive and negative aspects of community. We love to celebrate with our family and friends, but resent the noise from our neighbour’s party. We like to give and receive presents, but high expectations can bring big debts. We are grateful to those who entertain us, but we know we will be alone again tomorrow. Christmas is a mix of good and bad because people are a mix of good and bad.
We are connected with other people, near and far, who share this planet. Sometimes this is great. But the question we face is, how do we live in community when it doesn’t work for us? This is a question for all people, everywhere and in all ages. And there is something about celebrating the story of a child born into poverty that helps us to deal with this most human of questions.
Student Minister, Rose Hill Methodist Church