Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Christmas Quotes

Some of my favourite Christmas quotes.

Have you seen the Harry Potter movies? Yes, of course. But have you read the books. There is more humour in the books than the movies, and somehow this never translates well to the screen. But the humour lightens the growing darkness, and shows that not everything in life is, or should be, serious. Here are two Christmas quotes:

“One can never have enough socks," said Dumbledore. "Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

“Mistletoe," said Luna dreamily, pointing at a large clump of white berries placed almost over Harry's head. He jumped out from under it.
"Good thinking," said Luna seriously. "It's often infested with nargles.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Christmas, of course, is the time when A Christmas Carol is re-read, or seen in a movie, or performed at a theatre. It is a wonderful story, but rather like the Christmas story itself, we become so accustomed to hearing it that it can fall on deaf ears.

It is unashamedly political, but Dickens was not “left” or “right” in politics. His was a politics of morality, of right and wrong, in which justice and mercy meant the righting of wrongs. It is a voice that we still need to hear. Here is one quotation reminding us of those for whom Christmas is a time of trial, because they are poor and destitute, and that, of course, also includes those displaced from the security of their homes by war. The other quote is one about simple pleasures, and how joy is not found in possessions, but in the company of others.

At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge," said the gentleman, taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. … We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices."
- Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol.

He went to the church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and for, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of homes, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed of any walk, that anything, could give him so much happiness.”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

In the West, Christmas is close to the Winter Solstice, a dark, cold time of the year. Here is a quote reflecting that:

I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses...
- Taylor Caldwell

The story of the stable is one of reversals. Jesus is born, not among the kings, the great and the good, but among the poor and despised. These two quotes remind us what the real meaning of Christmas is about, not about presents and food, but about healing a broken world:

When the song of the angel is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost — To heal the broken — To feed the hungry —
To release the prisoner — To rebuild the nations —
To bring peace among brothers and sisters —
To make music in the heart.
- Howard Thurman

Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”
― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

And this is also the subject of my final quote, which is the Bishop’s Sermon at the end of that wonderful film “The Bishop’s Wife”.

It brings together the giving of presents with a reminder of what stocking is left unfilled, and how we can ourselves fill it.

The Story of a Christmas Stocking

Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking. Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child's cry. A blazing star hung over a stable and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven't forgotten that night down the centuries; we celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, the sound of bells and with gifts.

But especially with gifts. You give me a book; I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer, and Uncle Henry could do with a new pipe. We forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled -- all that is, except one.

And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. It's his birthday we are celebrating. Don't ever let us forget that. Let us ask ourselves what he would wish for most, and then let each put in his share. Loving kindness, warm hearts and the stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts that make peace on earth.

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