This is the script of this morning's Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2's Chris Evans Show with Jake Bugg, a Salvation Army band and the Strictly Come Dancing finalists in the studio (earlier). There are thirteen Jake Bugg song titles in there somewhere…
There are some miserable people around, aren't there?
Somebody told me that Christmas will be an anticlimax because the Strictly final comes before it. If you've been swept away by the hype around ballroom dancing, this may be true; but, for me and you the truth is we haven't yet seen it all.
I don't go along with the miseries who complain that some people only ever come to church at Christmas where we can ooh and aah about the baby in the manger without letting him grow into the man on the cross. I think it's brilliant that people come to hear the story afresh – to taste it in words and drama and music and touch the mystery of it all. Although we complicate it a million times, the Christmas story is as simple as this: God coming among us as one of us and defying all the hatred and violence that always seems to win in the world. A Christmas carol is a song about love – the uncomplicated love of God offered to us messed up kids who know we need it.
So, bring on the tinsel and stick the angel on your tree. Hang out the banners and raise a glass to love. Light a fire of forgiveness and be surprised that all the predictability can be broken by a lightning bolt of joy – seeing in the face of the baby in Bethlehem both your own face and the face of the God who loves you.
Now, if that sounds a bit preachy, er … well, I guess it is. After all, when angels sang on the hillsides they didn't apologise for intruding into people's routines. At carol services throughout December people have been unashamedly belting out glorias in excelsis Deo and found some place of holy contemplation amid the madness.
If nothing else, seeing the Jesus of the nativity might just provoke us to turn our attention to those who find no home, no inn, no welcome this Christmas. And the man he grew into might also ask us why people have no home, no company, no welcome this Christmas.
Note to self: be loved, then love it out.