Today’s Christmas song is ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ This song was written in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in reaction to television reports of the 1983-1985 famine in Ethiopia. It was first recorded in a single day on 25 November 1984 by ‘Band-Aid’; a group of famous artists put together by Geldof and Ure and consisting mainly of the biggest British and Irish musical acts at the time. The single was released in the United Kingdom on the 3rd December 1984 and aided by considerable publicity it entered the ‘UK Singles Chart’ at Number 1, becoming the ‘Christmas Number 1 of 1984’. The record became the fastest-selling single in the UK at the time, until it was subsequently overtaken by Elton John’s song for Princess Diana’s funeral.
The song was also a major success around the world, reaching Number 1 in thirteen other countries outside the UK. ‘Do They Know It's Christmas?’ was re-recorded three times: in 1989, 2004, and 2014. All the re-recordings were also charity records; the 1989 and 2004 versions also provided money for famine relief, while the 2014 version was used to raise funds for the Ebola crisis in West Africa. All three of these versions also reached Number 1 in the UK, with the 1989 and 2004 versions also becoming the Christmas Number 1s for their respective years.
Know this, all people in the western hemisphere: Each time one person in the west eats two slices of bread where one will suffice, someone in the eastern hemisphere will die of starvation. We often think we are born with an inalienable right to be who we are, as we are, and to do what comes naturally, and to possess what we can take. However, there can be no action of any kind here that does not produce a reaction there or somewhere else! All actions carry consequences. There is no right to any degree of freedom without the corresponding duty to exercise that freedom responsibly and humanely. There is no moral justification of ever exercising one’s power to exploit another’s weakness, and there is no personal gain that war can achieve which is beyond the scope of peaceful discussion! Peace on earth will come to stay when we live Christmas every day. Christmas isn't just a day, it's a frame of mind; it’s the cause of Creation and the purpose of being.
Some Christmas tree ornaments do more than glitter and glow, they represent a gift of love given a long time ago, reminding proud parents when they were first made and received from the little hands of their children at first school. For me, Christmas never starts until I have put up the tree and decked it with baubles bought over the years and Christmas tree adornments made by my children at first school thirty and forty years ago. Nothing ever seems too bad, too hard, or too sad when you've got a real Christmas tree in the living room. The tree reminds me that Christmas is the seasonal umbilical cord that holds all time since Creation together, and through which the blood of baby Jesus flows to mother earth and all mankind.
What tells me that Christmas has worked its magic on me again is when I still get more pleasure watching people unwrap my gifts to them than me unwrapping theirs. It is this love of giving more than receiving that tells me I have managed to remain close to the right path all through the year leading up to the blessed season of Christmas. It was Benjamin Franklin who said that “A good conscience is a continual Christmas”.
Christmas without children would be less complete for me. Christmas heralds a New Year for each of us, new challenges to face, and new life to follow. To see one’s children grow through the stages of infancy, boyhood, girlhood, teenager, man, and woman brings both pleasure and occasional pain, but of all the times that form those most precious memories I have of them all, none can ever match those magical moments than the mounting excitement on their small faces of wonder as they listen attentively for the sound of Santa and his reindeers in the skies as they lie in bed in hopeful anticipation of gifts to unwrap in the morning beneath the tree. It is this sight of sheer pleasure on children’s innocent little faces that reminds me that if Christmas does not live in one’s heart all year round, it can never be found beneath the tree on Christmas morning. I still recall my own mother telling me when I was a child to listen for the sound of the bells, because every time we hear a bell ring at Christmas time, an angel gets its wings! Pray God that we may never be too grown up to search the skies on Christmas Eve for Santa as a child and for the message of the new-born star as an adult.
Christmas means many things to each of us, as we carry within us a kaleidoscope of experiences unique from those of any other person. Christmas is a time of rejoicing for most of us, and a time of reunion with family and loved ones. It can also represent the season of goodwill towards our neighbour as hardened hearts between adversaries are softened by the promise of a new-born star, leading toward a time of repentance as we adopt a warmer welcome to those people who we gave a cold shoulder to during the previous eleven months. For most of us, Christmas can be a time of reflection as the New Year approaches, followed by a time when we resolve to reform certain practices and behaviour to improve our minds and bodies. One way or another, whatever our circumstances, like Christmas or loathe it, Christmas brings a change in all our lives. If the feast of Christmas did not exist, it would still need to be invented because there has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves, even if it is to engage the world in a great big conspiracy of love.
So please, by putting Christmas back in your heart you are putting it in the air where it will spread to all who breathe and intoxicate their lungs with the freshness of its eternal message. We are all children of God, and the one thought we should always remember at Christmas, more than any other time of the year is that all roads lead home.
We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Love and peace Bill and Sheila xxx