Do you want to be a child this Christmas?
“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.”
If you’re fond of Charles Dickens, then you may recognise those words from A Christmas Carol.
But seriously? Who really wants to be a child in the UK today?
The latest reports from the TUC tell us that one in four children now lives in relative poverty. And the number of children growing up in poverty in working households has increased by 800,000 since 2010.
The numbers are incomprehensible. The reality of poverty was painfully summed up last week when a letter from a seven-year-old girl was published on line.
The letter, addressed to Father Christmas, was posted in a community centre in Everton. It read:
Dear Father Christmas.
Can you help? Can we have a home for Christmas? Mam wants us to be all together. Can you give us some food and can I have just a nice doll for Christmas?
The words are beautiful and heart breaking and put the tinsel and turkey into stark perspective. In light of them, Dickens’ words may seem a little frivolous, or ill-judged.
But perhaps it’s worth remembering that Dicken’s quintessentially Christmas novel, was actually a cleverly crafted critique on issues of child labour, workers’ rights and inequality.
It’s also a powerful story of forgiveness, redemption and hope. Sound familiar?
Love like children
In the midst of the complex issues facing our nation and our world, it’s all too easy to lose hope. But perhaps childlike faith is the very thing we could all do with more of.
After all, in Matthew 18:3 it’s Jesus who tells us, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
As adults, we often have our eyes so fixed on the messy details of life that we completely miss the beauty around us.
Had we been at that first Christmas, how many of us would have been preoccupied with the stench of animal dung and draft coming under the stable door?
Perhaps we’d have been so distracted that we’d have completely missed the saviour of the world, lying there in the manger.
In the face of life’s immense challenges, we can of course bring practical support. We know of churches across our country who are providing a lifeline to individuals and families this Christmas – perhaps yours is one of them.
But it’s our prayer that they’ll also get the chance to share the true joy that comes when we allow ourselves to marvel, childlike, at God’s beautiful Christmas gift to us – Jesus.
The world may be broken, the world may be hurting – but Jesus’ love endures.
Mother Theresa said, “It’s Christmas every time you let God love others through you.”
So let’s love with the unconditional, unquestioning, faithful, beautiful, unbridled love of children this Christmas.