Recently, I went to buy some Christmas cards. They were all full of robins, Santas, and wintry scenes. When asked, the shop assistant said they do not sell religious cards.
It made me realise how much of the Christmas message has been lost. Christmas is a time when Christians, the Church and, traditionally the whole of society celebrates the birth of Jesus. He was born in Bethlehem in a stable, because the local pub or inn had run out of rooms – even for a pregnant woman.
When I was a child, it was hard to buy a Christmas card which did not tell part of the Christmas story. There were images of Mary and the stable or of shepherds listening to God’s messengers (called angels) or of wealthy Eastern rulers bringing gifts.
The Christian Bible unfolds the story of how God comes to us in Jesus to be the example of a new way of living. The Islamic Koran honours the prophetic work of Jesus and his mother Mary. Persian legends tell of kings travelling with gifts. The world of faiths and Christmas find their focus in what happened in that stable because there was no room at the inn.
Will the God who shows himself in Jesus find room in your Christmas? Will you find enough to give a gift to those who are homeless?, or perhaps will you bring an aging relative home for Christmas lunch?, or will you remember to visit that lonely person down your street?
The Christmas story is not just about counting our cards or what presents we get, it is about letting God in Jesus speak through our lives. We can do that through hospitality. Unsure of the story? There will be plenty of room at a church near you to learn more.
• Andrew Francis is a poet & community theologian. His latest book is called Hospitality & Community After Christendom. Read more about it at www.bit.ly/af-book