Christmas brings temporary insanity to the UK. Think about it. We cut down pine trees and erect them in our living rooms, kiss distant aunties we don't like, and gorge on tasteless meat with Brussels sprouts whilst donning party hats and pulling crackers. And what about the shopping! We spend hours in busy shopping malls, buying expensive presents no one needs, with money we don't have, in a desire to keep up with everyone else's generosity.
Christmas becomes The Day of Getting; huge piles of presents under the tree, where we all play the children's game ‘how many are for me?’. Tearing off carefully wrapped paper, ribbons, bows, to glimpse briefly at the present before returning our gaze to the next. We yearly mount the stairs later that day with armfuls of presents coupled with a sense of disappointment, a longing for more, a sense of deeper hunger.
C S Lewis wrote "earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy ‘desire’ but only arouse it, to suggest the real thing."
Our yearnings and restlessness will never be satisfied with the getting of more. These things only bloat us to uncomfortable proportions, like stomachs after Christmas pud. Yearning, hunger and restlessness are reminders that God has made us this way; a divine compass in the heart of mankind, pointing us to a greater reality - God himself. We are programmed with an endless capacity for knowledge and experience, but will never feel full.
This year Heather and I stood on the edge of Niagara Falls, with all of its powerful majesty. We cruised the fjords of Norway, worshipped in crowds of thousands at Westpoint and recently celebrated my mums 80th birthday surrounded by all the family. Rich experiences, heaven blessed. And yet immersed in each experience there is a sense of longing - glorious moments slipping between our fingers like some slippery bar of soap.
Truth is we are made for a better country, a heavenly one, a city God has prepared for us (Heb:11). God has put eternity in the hearts of men, and Christmas reminds us that we are homesick for the eternal, and that is why more than any time of the year we feel this greater pull. It's meant to be this way, we were made for God, the real thing.