Have Yourself an Augustinian Little Christmas image

Have Yourself an Augustinian Little Christmas

This year, in addition to all the extraneous hoopla that always surrounds Christmas in the West - shopping, eating, drinking, decorating, gift-giving and so forth - many of us have been given something that we actually want: an opportunity to sit down and have a meal with people we love. I'm delighted. So is my wife, and so are my children.

But with that blessing comes a significant risk: that Christmas will become even less about Christ than it often can be. I don’t mean in the nation as a whole; I take that as read. I mean in my own heart, and yours. We may tumble into this season with so much relief that the rules are relaxed, and that we can do something that feels normal at the end of such an abnormal year, that we pin our hopes for joy on the celebration of this week, rather than the One we are celebrating. I am very aware of that danger in my own life. “All my streams are found in bubbles,” or words to that effect.

They aren’t. Nor are yours. I am not created to find joy and hope in my family or community, any more than I am created to find it in presents or shopping. I don’t want to jump out of the frying pan of materialism into the fire of mingling.

This week I need to find my joy in God, or I will flounder. I need to drink from the fountain, not the broken cistern of family (as much as I love them). Take the world, and give me Jesus. Augustine was right: “You made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”

So if you see me out and about on Eastbourne seafront in the next few days, there’s a fair chance I’ll be reading Richard Bauckham’s Who Is God?, or listening to Jules Burt’s All I Want (which, by the way, is a magnificent summary of the Confessions Book I):

Merry Christmas.

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