Outdoor carols by
candlelight concerts are a huge tradition. They’re on television, and many
churches and schools run them. At our youngest son’s primary school I
noticed a change in this year’s programme – they had turfed out virtually
all the Christian carols. Silent Night was all that remained.
Thus, the hundreds of
parents, sitting on picnic chairs in the school courtyard, sipping beer and
chilled white wine, missed out on the lyrics of previous years such as
late in time behold
offspring of a virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail, the incarnate deity,
and were instead entertained with
“carols” like I Saw Momma Kissing Santa Claus and Jingle Bells
Rock. I didn’t hear anyone complain.
We don’t have relatives here in Melbourne
– apart from my mother, who moved here a few years ago from Auckland, and is
returning there for Christmas – so will celebrate Christmas Day with two
other families, all of us former Tokyo residents.
One of our number, the only one born in
Australia, insists on traditional food, whatever that is, so she’s cooking a
turkey. But her husband is Japanese, and will likely contribute a Japanese
My wife is Korean and has been designated
the vegetables. She has no idea what constitutes a traditional Christmas
vegetable dish, so will probably make a few summer salads, and has already
Another of our group is Scottish, and
wants something traditional – while insisting that New Year is more worthy
of celebration than Christmas – but his wife is Japanese, and may bring
Whatever, we’ll be eating outside in the
garden, like numerous other Australians.
And that’s the trend of Christmas in
Australia – a relaxed, multi-cultural affair with bits thrown in from all
Otherwise, it’s largely business here as
usual. The school year has ended and summer holidays have begun. Shopping
centres are jammed, despite fears of terrorist bombs. On Christmas Day some
people will go to church.
But do I detect another trend? A few
weeks ago my wife and I went to
Baptist Church to hear Matthew Jacoby of the
Sons of Korah
group sing and talk movingly about the psalms. During the service, people
got up to place gifts under a Christmas tree, to be given to the children of
prisoners. The pastor later said more gifts than ever before were received.
The same happened at my own church, two
weeks ago. More gifts than ever before. There are newspaper reports
suggesting that some of the charitable organisations working to help the
needy at Christmas are also receiving more support than usual.
Perhaps it is a one-off reaction to the
Bali bombing. But is something else at work? A new spirit?
I’ve no idea. But it is a trend that
surely is to be welcomed.
And on that note, I wish all my readers a
happy and peaceful Christmas season in the Lord. May it be a time of great
December 23rd, 2002