Beyond the Banter: It’s Only a Winter’s Tale




Amid the clamour of consumerism, David Essex singing It’s Only a Winter’s Tale stopped me in the middle of the supermarket. I have no idea why. I don’t know the rest of the lyrics, only the title. It’s not one of my all time favourites, but perhaps the music evoked memories of childhood Christmases from the deepest recesses of my mind. Salvation Army bands have a similar effect on me at this time of year. Is it pure nostalgia?

It seems to me that the origins of Christmas are sometimes obscured by tinsel and trappings. Consumerism promotes a celebration of a different kind. It asks us to impress our family with expensive catering, gaze in wonder at the latest gadgets and have our best Christmas ever.

Is the Christmas story “only a winter’s tale”? It goes something like this: The King of Heaven broke into our earthly existence in Roman occupied Palestine. He arrived as a baby, to a trusting Mum and Dad. Shepherds out in the fields, familiar with the night sky, were alerted to a bright, moving star. They followed it to a stable in Bethlehem. They knelt before a new born baby. Wise men saw that same star and followed it from a far away country. The gifts they brought held clues to the baby’s royalty (Gold), his priestly calling (Frankincense) and his ultimate sacrifice (Myrrh). I doubt they came to worship in confident faith. It’s more likely they came with unspoken questions.

So as I hear the sound of David Essex singing his familiar Christmas anthem, I pray that, despite the increasing secularisation of Christmas, we might not lose sight of the reason for the season, and approach the Christmas story with honest questions, because for me it’s so much more than a winter’s tale.

Main photo credit: Laura Baker Unsplash

Bob Fraser

Bob Fraser is a singer-songwriter, men’s group leader and Regional Director for CVM aiming to open up conversations about life and faith.

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