This was my Pause For Thought on BBC Radio 2's Early Breakfast Show on December 22nd 2022... The theme was Christmas... I used one of my short thoughts of three from the Sunday before in Fitzroy... inspired by the Paul Keeble Christmas Carol Wrapped Around.
Has the wrapping started in your house?
When I married my wife Janice I met with the wrapping culture. Marriage is like that. Clashes of how things are always done. The Stockman’s ate boiled potatoes, the Gordon’s roasties. The Stockman didn’t wrap their Christmas gifts. The Gordon’s did.
That means that when I walked into a room, as a child, on Christmas morning I could see everything in one big extravagant panorama of gifts. I remember as a 6 year old walking into the lounge. Wow! The blackboard and easel, the golf clubs, the rugby ball. All in one catch of the eye!
Not so much in a wrapping world. There’s not one panoramic thrill. It’s harder work. Everything is up close. Anyway I am used to it now. And so this weekend I am now looking forward to unwrapping my Tom Petty Live at the Fillmore box set and my Padraig O Tuama book Poetry Unbound, my U2 hoodie and maybe a few surprises.
Later in my life I learned that God was a wrapper. On Christmas morning I will gather with our Fitzroy congregation of Jesus followers and celebrate something else that is wrapped. We audaciously believe that God wrapped himself up in the flesh of a baby.
The baby in the nativity story we believe is God - flesh wrapped around. The Spirit that we believe fills the universe, always moving, always at rest, has decided not to stay way out in space unable to understand or empathise with our human experience here on planet earth. We believe that God visited wrapped in human skin.
I sometimes fear that we have eroded the potency of the baby in the Christmas picture. As God in skin there is so much under this wrapping.
As my congregation gathers round the crib on Christmas Day, as we sing carols and listen to readings of the nativity we believe that underneath the human wrapping is peace, and joy, and hope, and mercy and justice and love. I wish you all of them this Christmas.
I guess I have learned to really like the gifts that are wrapped!