Canon Paul Williams, vicar of Christ Church Fulwood, our mission partner church, has written a wonderful short book about Christmas. ‘I love Christmas,’ he writes at the beginning of Christmas: The Greatest Gift, ‘I love the food, the presents, the time with family, decorating the tree, singing carols - I love it all; well, almost all.’
He then shares his frustrations with sellotape: ‘I reckon that, over the years, I must have wasted hours of my life looking for the end of the sellotape. When I do eventually find the end and think I can finally start wrapping presents, I peel back the sellotape only to find it rips diagonally towards the end of the roll, leaving me with a small piece that is good for nothing.’
That is surely an experience that resonates with many of us on Christmas Eve.
But, the wit aside, the book explains the real message of Christmas with beautiful clarity. Quoting John’s Gospel, chapter 1v18 - ‘No-one has ever seen God, but the God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known’ (New International Version) - Canon Williams writes: ‘Do you want to know what God is like? John says that, from the first Christmas onwards, you can know God like never before because he has come to earth in the person of Jesus’ (p9).
He then invites the reader to examine the evidence for this extraordinary claim: ‘Where is the proof? Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. We find such proof in the historical accounts of Jesus’ life recorded in the Bible.’
Canon Williams is not asking the reader to believe in Father Christmas. He sets out the reasons for Christian belief based on the historical reality of Jesus Christ’s life, death and bodily resurrection.
The book ends with an invitation to the reader to accept God’s gift of Jesus Christ by praying a prayer of commitment. This involves admitting to God that we have sinned and rejected him; believing that Jesus, the baby of the Christmas story, is God’s One and Only Son who came to us in human flesh; believing that Jesus’ death for us can bring us forgiveness and eternal life; asking Jesus to be our Saviour; and receiving Jesus into our life, acknowledging him as our Lord to direct our life, for the rest of our life.
This is a great book to give to friends and family who are not yet Christians, but for those of us who are Christians it is a heart-warming reminder of the world-transforming truth of the Christmas message.
Christmas: The Greatest Gift by Paul Williams (10Publishing, 2017, 49 pages) is available from 10ofthose.com