A few weeks ago Jenny and I attended an event at Sandown Racecourse. No, we were not having a flutter on the horses; it was a Christian Resources Exhibition. We were able to view a number of stalls selling books, stationery items, and worship artefacts that could be used to support our ministry in the benefice. Needless to say, I purchased far too many things, especially books, which is one of my weaknesses. While we were there we also had the chance to attend a couple of short talks or presentations. I listened to someone talking about the Celtic Saints and another man talking about Christmas.
The second presenter was a comedian called Paul Kerensa who has produced a book called “Hark! The Biography of Christmas” – of course, I bought the book! His talk was obviously aimed at promoting his book but it was also an extremely lively and entertaining presentation. We even sang “While Shepherds Watched” to the tune of “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”! He tried to insist that his book was a serious volume (and it does contain a lot of well-researched factual information) but it also has a foreword by Chris Evans and a review comment by Miranda Hart, so you can tell that it is written in a light-hearted style. I would like to give you a taster of his work:
Some highlights from Herod’s Curriculum Vitae (paraphrased from Paul’s book)
1. Secret of Success – Herod prospered thanks to fierce ambition, ruthless tyranny, and his swift and fickle change of allegiance to whoever was Rome’s winning side.
2. Marry me, Mariamne – Herod had ten wives (not all at the same time), including a Cleopatra and two Mariamnes. His first wife had the earthier name of Doris.
3. Killing people – Herod was a tyrant who killed anyone in his way, including three of his own sons. He drowned his teenage brother-in-law at a party, and once made his mother-in-law testify against his wife, her daughter – before killing them both.
4. Safety in numbers – If you ever wondered why no-one killed him off, Herod had 2,000 bodyguards.
Reading Paul Kerensa’s book has given me some interesting and amusing information about the Christmas story and Christmas traditions, but underlying all this information is the focus on the birth of Jesus and what that means for us. God sent his Son to live among us, to be a model for our own lives, to suffer and die for us, and to show us the extent of God’s love for us. Whatever the trimmings of the Christmas story and traditions, that fact is the basis of our celebrations and the reason why we say “Happy Christmas” to each other.
I hope that your Christmas is full of joy and laughter, and the knowledge of God’s love for each and every one of us.