This year marks my third Christmas since moving to the UK. Reflecting on my childhood, I recall my parents taking my brother and me to see Christmas lights. We would visit places like Tsim Sha Tsui East, Tsim Sha Tsui, and then take the Star Ferry to the Central area, soaking in the festive Christmas atmosphere. I remember eagerly anticipating the elaborate decorations, particularly the large Christmas displays in Central’s Landmark Square, often featuring scenes of Jesus’ birth in a manger. Another highlight was the commercial buildings along the waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui, adorned with large festive lights, usually depicting Santa Claus and his reindeer. I recall one year, after Christmas, they transformed from Santa Claus to the God of Wealth, and the reindeer turned into oxen, showcasing creativity while reducing costs.
Upon arriving in the UK, last year my family and I spent the Christmas holidays in London. We marveled at the beautiful angelic lights around Piccadilly Circus, the splendid Christmas decorations in shops, and street performers dressed as Santa Claus. The streets were bustling with people, creating a vibrant and lively atmosphere in the heart of the capital.
As this year-end holiday season approaches, most people, regardless of their Christian faith, celebrate with joy and happiness, sharing the festive spirit with one another.
Much like the tradition of Santa Claus, the legend dates back to Saint Nicholas, a bishop in the Roman Empire during the fourth century. He was known to climb onto the roofs of the poor at night, dropping coins down their chimneys to help a girl escape her fate of being sold. His benevolent acts are commemorated through the figure of Santa Claus, symbolizing the joy of giving. These ways of celebrating Christmas are values that resonate universally.
However, for us Christians, the true Christmas has arrived. It’s not about Santa Claus coming, nor is it about the joy of buying Christmas gifts. It’s about the birth of the Holy Infant Jesus Christ, who came for us, willingly becoming the “Word” made “flesh,” dwelling among us to save us. This is the real reason to celebrate Christmas.
Christ came into the world to save us, to forgive our sins, not because we did something good to earn it, but as a gift freely given to us. When we sincerely confess and repent, acknowledging our inability to overcome the power of sin on our own, relying solely on the help of Jesus to overcome the power of sin and receive salvation—this is all grace. As Christians, are we willing to use the Christmas season to share this gift of salvation with those around us?
May the Lord help us all. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas! May God’s grace abound!
Rev Louis Yeung