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Dona Spencer

Imagining Christmas afresh

What happens when we consciously imagine ourselves as part of the Christmas story? It helps us recognise Christ as he dwells among us today, writes Rev Dona Spencer.

Whilst Christmas is a time when we remind ourselves that Jesus came as a baby, the challenge for me as a minister and as an artist is to make real the truth that Jesus continues to come—to speak to all. The imagination is an underrated gift within each of us to help us to allow the person of Christ, and the Christmas story, to penetrate our hearts and feelings, and to come to know Christ as a living person—more than a name, a baby or a historical figure.

If we were to place ourselves in the story of the birth of Christ as described in the second chapter of Luke, how would we feel? Let’s imagine we were near that manger, sitting, smelling the earthy smells of the animals and feed. Let’s sit on the hill with the shepherds, hearing the praises of the multitude of angels.

As we do so, our imagination is stirred as it witnesses personally to an event that would inspire other writers, artists, poets, musicians and architects for over two thousand years.

Christmas for me is a time of renewed astonishment, when I consider afresh the boldness of the creator spirit who overshadowed the body of a young woman, causing her to give birth to the Son of God; who surprises me still with the careless splash of turquoise-gold across the sky; who intrigues me with the abundant diversity of character and culture from the jumping Maasai in deepest Kenya, to the ancient Himalayan elder with etched face behind beaded headscarf. And that same Creator Spirit challenges me with the expressive sounds, lines and marks furtively and honestly sung, engraved, drawn or sprayed by contemporary western youth.

At Christmas, I too am challenged to witness honestly, courageously and boldly to the birth of the Son of God, in the same spirit! With a vigour, and newfound creativity, that witnesses to the dramatic bold truth of the miracle of this birth.

I believe if we are to be witnesses, we need to find new, creative and splendid ways that invigorate and breathe new life into the grass and dung surrounding the manger, provoking one another to a life worthy of the call, stirring one another to good, beautiful, and stunning works reflective of the creator.

Too hard? Let it begin in the imagination. Let it tumble into words, phrases, notes, ideas, lines and shapes. Let them grow with the encouragement and inspiration of one another, into theatre, puppetry, poetry, musical compositions, murals, mime, installations, sculptures, community gatherings, choirs, calendars, cards, dancing and designs. The possibilities are endless and who knows? The energy they will bring to your own community and beyond just may be life-giving and transformational.

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