The clocks have gone back, the leaves have fallen and the evenings are getting darker, but there is a light amongst the seeming autumnal gloom. Christmas is coming!
Ever since I can remember Christmas has been one of the highlights of my year. Every autumn I count down and look forward to the festive season. Last year it was discovered that there was an important event missing from Andy Tuck’s extensive termly student work plan: a Christmas party! An evening filled with garish Christmas jumpers, cheesy Christmas music, and, of course, a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. And so it happened; a venue was found, a date was set and a Christmas dinner was cooked.
For me it was one of the highlights of last year, an event that has been talked about ever since. There was such an air of excitement around the evening, a sense of community and a sense of family. There was something so precious about sitting eating Christmas dinner in a room with lots of other students, the room filled with laughter, crackers popping and punctuated by snippets of Mariah Carey and Slade.
One of the joys about spending the lead up to Christmas away from home is being able to start your own traditions, your own things that make Christmas special for you. London is an amazing place to spend the advent season. People flood to Oxford Street for the switching on of the Christmas lights, ice-rinks seem to appear from nowhere, Christmas decorations adorn every shop window and street, and the South Bank fills with stalls selling everything you could possibly imagine to do with Christmas. People seem to hurry everywhere, preoccupied with lists, shopping and preparations. Nevertheless, in amongst all the busyness being away from family in this lead up can be somewhat lonely.
This is why for us it is so important to have these evenings of community, to build relationship with those around us and find new ways to celebrate. The Christmas party is an excellent opportunity to spend time as ChristChurch London students all together, to have Christmas dinner with your connect group, to celebrate the end of term, but more importantly it is an opportunity to share the joy of Christmas with friends outside of ChristChurch. Christmas is the time of year we can remember how two thousand years ago the King of Heaven and Earth humbled himself and was born in a stable in Bethlehem. It is easy to forget the magnitude of this truth amidst the commercialism that surrounds Christmas, but what an opportunity to reflect on this amazing truth; the saviour of the world wrapped in cloth and placed in a manger so that he could live among us and make a way for us to be with the Father for eternity. The New Testament is full of examples of Jesus having dinner with people and spending time with them. Having dinner together is such a powerful way to build community, having conversation with friends over good food is one of my favourite things to do. And what better way to build community than by wearing garish Christmas jumpers and eating Christmas dinner.
So this year amongst the gingerbread lattes, the ice skating and the Christmas lights, let us not forget the real reason we are celebrating and take a moment to share with our friends the exciting truth about Jesus and build deeper community at this truly wonderful time of year.
The Student Christmas Party is on Dec 9 at the Vauxhall Christian Centre. Dinner is just £4! Find out more and register online.