The reason for the season

24/12/2019

Jim Hopkins remembers Christmases past:

. . . Christmas always stirs strong feelings and vivid memories for me.

I grew up south of the tracks in Christchurch when coal was king and fired the steam trains that thundered through. Dad was the vicar at St Mary’s Addington and, for him, Christmas was one of the most important times of the year.

Which should come as no surprise, though it may do now.

A birth in Bethlehem is, after all, the reason we actually have a Christmas holiday. And that birth used to be an integral part of the celebration.

Recognised in school nativity plays, on the wireless, in newspapers, its story touched most people’s lives.

Mary and Joseph and the Three Wise Men shared the limelight with Mr Claus and his elves.

Needless to say, the vicar’s offspring took their place in the pews – along with the rest of the community. Service first, pud and presents later. That was the drill.

I can still see the interior of that old church, dark timber beams, dust motes drifting in the light filtered through stained glass windows. I can hear the carols. I can smell the Christmas lillies. These memories return every year, as time grows longer, becoming ever stronger.

But the Christmas I remember is a faded thing. As the churches have lost (or surrendered) their influence, so faith has left the festive season.

Christmas today is a strictly secular affair with scant public recognition of its religious roots. The establishment avoids them and the media simply ignores them.

Bad for business or just old hat, anything biblical is off the agenda. Those who run the fourth estate may argue that’s because fewer people say they’re Christian, to which the reply might be, maybe that’s because you’ve spent decades dismissing their beliefs.

Whatever the reasons, it saddens me that the spiritual dimension of Christmas has withered as it has. Because the nativity story literally marks the beginning of a faith which, whatever the woke folk may say, is a core piece of our heritage and the foundation of our morals, manners and laws. For that reason alone, it has a place on Christmas day. . .

A few days ago I read a media release from a government entity (which I now can’t find) explaining how it’s sensitive to employees who don’t celebrate Christmas.

Fair enough, but sensitivity shouldn’t mean pretending it’s something else, especially when it’s not applied to celebrations for other religions.

No-one pretends that Diwali isn’t a Hindu festival, we’re not asked to skirt round, we shouldn’t be offended if someone wishes us happy Hanukkah so why the pussy-footing around Christmas?

You don’t have to be a Christian to understand and acknowledge the reason for the season.

You don’t have to believe what Christians do.

And Christian or not, we’d all be better off with more reflection on the real message of hope, joy, peace and love.


November 21 in history

21/11/2009

On November 21:

164 BC Judas Maccabaeus, son of Mattathias of the Hasmonean family, restoresdthe Temple in Jerusalem. This event is commemorated each year by the festival of Hanukkah.

1694 Voltaire, French philosopher, was born.

1783 Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent, Marquis d’Arlandes, make the first untethered hot air balloon flight.

1787 Samuel Cunard, Canadian-born shipping magnate, was born.

1863 Maori surrendered at Rangiriri.

1877  Thomas Edison announced his invention of the phonograph, a machine that can record and play sound

1905 Albert Einstein‘s paper, Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?, was published in the journal “Annalen der Physik”. This paper reveals the relationship between energy and mass. This led to the mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc².

1920 In Dublin, 31 people were killed in what became known as “Bloody Sunday“.

1922 Rebecca Latimer Felton of Georgia took the oath of office, becoming the first female United States Senator.

1929 Marilyn French, American feminist writer, was born.

1936 Victor Chang, Australian physician, was born.

1941 Juliet Mills, British actress, was born.

1945  Goldie Hawn, American actress, was born.

1948  George Zimmer, American entrepreneur, was born.

1977 Minister of Internal Affairs Allan Highet announced that ‘the national anthems of New Zealand shall be the traditional anthem “God Save the Queen” and the poem “God Defend New Zealand“, written by Thomas Bracken, as set to music by John Joseph Woods, both being of equal status as national anthems appropriate to the occasion.

 

New Zealand Historic Places Trust blue plaque at the site of the first performance in Dunedin.
1995 The Dayton Peace Agreement was initialed at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio, ending three and a half years of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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