A Hygge Christmas
Christmas Eve Sermon
Looking back There have been some words which have stuck out his year. Think what words you will have in mind as you recall 2016
I guess most of you will have - Brexit
Most will also have - Tumpism
Here is a word which you may have heard 'Hygge'
It first appeared in Danish writing in the 19th Century and has since evolved into the cultural idea of Hygge known in Denmark today. It means well being - and Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world so we need to see what they are talking about.
It is a hard word to translate but we can gain an understanding of what it means if we think of situations which could be described as Hygge
1. A candle lit room with a cosy fire drinking , mulled wine that would be hygge
2. Friends gathered together around a candle lit table sharing a bottle of wine that would be hygge
Candles play a large part in hygge, perhaps because in the dark we all look gorgeous. I remember in the power cuts there was a baby boom because people got out the candles and couldn’t sit on the sofa all night watching TV
3. Electricity is not necessarily bad - a family get together with children and adults watching a Disney film together at Christmas - that could be hygge
However a child alone in their bedroom on Facebook posting messages - that would not be hygge. The number of children self harming has reached record proportions and the experts tell us that social media has a case to answer for creating a generation which is not at ease with itself.
You see hygge has nothing to do with materialism. Materialism is bad for us, makes us worry about money and sets us off chasing happiness in things, which is futile. Looking at the lives of the rich and famous and feeling inadequate is bad.
Hygge is about, creating nice place, making people happier, it is about sharing one of our most precious gifts with others - our time. It is getting harder to have people to yourself, they will be texting or, snapchating or something else.
Hygge always included welcome of others, it is rooted in the Danish sense of togetherness. Hygge is about creating a sanctuary and community a safe space where we feel open hearted and alive.
The Church must be a place where these values of hygge are found. But we have not been very good as a church about making people feel good about themselves, we have tended to want everybody to be the same and do as they are told.
Jesus wasn’t like this at all. He said that
He came that we might have life and have it abundantly.
Tonight we have created out own hygge, with our candles and our traditional music and our sacred readings. This is important stuff.
Jesus would have liked hygge because he rejected materialism and wanted people to be more accepting of others. He spent a lot of time around tables in candle light and he welcomed everybody to his table, including people who were not respectable, prostitutes and the likes and people didn’t like it and they called him a drunkard.
This is what the church is at its very best. When we are following the teaching of Jesus we create well-being, connection and warmth. Jesus tried to teach his followers that they were part of the same family, connected. He told them that he was like a vine and they were all branches, connected to one another and to him. This is the sense of belonging to each other.
In the modern world which is confused and overstretched, complex, and technology driven - our faith reminds us of deeper truth our connection to one another, our families, our communities, our children, and our earth.
Jesus encouraged his followers not to be beguiled by things and worrying about possessions, he told them to look at the beauty of the flowers of the field and how wonderful nature was. A full life was not a life full of things. Fullness was about deeper fulfilment, spiritual fulfilment.
This beauty of God which Jesus spoke about is in each one of us, the Bible tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made - and if only our young people could understand how valued their life was and how beautiful they were in God’s eyes then they would not feel the need to harm themselves because they would know how deeply they were loved by God their creator and how valuable their lives were to him.
We all need to see afresh the love of God in the baby Jesus born at Bethlehem, the love of God in Jesus who gave his life for our life on the cross and showed that undying love in resurrection which is the ultimate source of feeling good about ourselves and others, knowing God’s promise of life which crushes cruel death.
May you know these deep truths in your life this Christmas,
The writer of the Book of the Ephesians had a prayer for the people of Ephesus. It is a prayer I have for each one of you this Christmas.
That you may be able to comprehend the width and length and depth and height of the love of Jesus that you may be filled with all the fullness of God
I wish you all a hygge Christmas