Below is the script I wrote for BBC Radio Devon Sunday Service for Christmas 2016 (and I stand by every word, and many other words besides!):
I am going to be honest with you this morning.
And my honesty may cause concern, relief or perplexity in equal measure….or it may cause hope.
I don’t know when, exactly, I stopped liking what passes for a British Christmas.
I am at the stage now in my mid-40’s where I am simply tired of the whole merry-go-round.
Am I being unnecessarily melancholy; a party-pooper of Scrooge like proportions? Probably.
But also, possibly not.
I know I am not alone.
I know many people who will shop entirely online this Xmas to avoid the menacingly repetitive Christmas pop songs that blare out, over and over and over again.
To Noddy Holder, Johnny Matthis, Cliff Richard, Mud and all the others, thanks but….give it a rest!
I feel like Henry Thoreau’s line from his 19th c. book Walden hangs in the air: “The mass of [people] lead lives of quiet desperation.” The extended quote is more well known, “The mass of [people] lead lives of quiet desperation and die with their song still inside them.”
I do wish Noddy, Johnny and Cliff had kept their songs inside them!
As a Baptist Minister in Torquay, my view has been received with a degree of astonishment! Be that as it may!
“A minister who doesn’t like Christmas!” said either in actual words or, most often, facial expressions!
“Is that even allowed?”
“Don’t church ministers have training in liking Christmas, and ensuring everyone else likes it too?”
Well, although there is enormous pressure to conform unthinkingly to a system of celebration that many people dread, ministers do not undergo a module at theological college called “How to like Christmas and why you must!”
There is something in the air of Christmas, its impending approach, its imminence, its arrival, and of course the uncompromising aftermath of being full yet feeling empty.
It is a whiff of something we all smell, but keep to ourselves.
We daren’t mention it, lest we be thrown out of the party.
It is not the smell of mince pies and mulled wine, as delicious as that is.
It is the smell of a due sense of dread.