Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The Hypothesis of Christmas

On the ninth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

I was walking to the Post Office in Parkhill last week—I believe it was Wednesday— and what to my wondering eyes did appear but a Christmas Tree out by the side of the street waiting to be picked up and disposed of; a truly sad sight.  There is something sad about the passing out of Christmas Trees with the symbolic end to Christmas for another year; but really, three days after Christmas is truly missing the spirit of Christmas. 

As the song The Twelve Days of Christmas tells us, Christmas is twelve days long and not just one day.  The church also has the season of Christmas up to Epiphany.  However, as our culture begins the preparation for and celebration of Christmas some months earlier it is not surprizing that people are ready to throw out the tree, put away the decorations, and stop singing Christmas Carols as soon as the 25th of December is past or after Boxing Day in any case.

The non-celebration of Advent by our culture is another aspect of the whole cultural re-imaging of Christmas which has gone on for many years.  If you don’t have a season of reflection and preparation you plunge into the whole mad frenzy of doing Christmas up the way our culture holds it should be celebrated i.e. more of a Bacchanalian expression of buying whatever is the thing that has shot to the top of popularity this year.

During the days leading up to the beginning of Christmas i.e. Christmas Eve, I was rereading The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams, one of my favourite authors.  It is a wonderful and mysterious novel about the original Tarot Card, among other things, which has a theme that reflects the true meaning of Christmas.  I often reread this  at this time of year because it takes place at Christmas time and has at its grounding the theme of Christmas. 
In the novel the heroine, Sybil, who is well named, is asked by her brother if she thought the Athanasian Creed was Christian.  She answered that:
She didn’t see anything un-Christian about it—not if you remember the hypothesis of Christianity.  
“And what,” Mr. Coningsby said, as if this riddle were entirely answerable, “what do you call the hypothesis of Christianity?”
“The Deity of Love and the Incarnation of Love?” Sybil suggested, adding, “Of course, whether you agree with it is another thing.”
 Today I pose the following question for your consideration; what is the hypothesis of Christmas?
First let’s clarify what is meant by hypothesis.  One definition I propose using is,” a proposition assumed as a premise in an argument.”  What then is the proposition of Christmas?  Well, for me it is that God became incarnate and as it says in the Gospel of John, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us.”  As Sybil says, whether you agree with that is another thing.  But if you do agree, the premise of that hypothesis is far reaching and life changing.  

If you don’t agree with that hypothesis the cultural celebration of Christmas is understandable and perhaps appropriate.  If you do….?  Well that is a whole other story for each of us to consider.
Have a wonderful time with those nine ladies dancing.  Oh, and Happy New Year.

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