Kanishka Raffel, Dean of Sydney’s St Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral, has posted a “newly discovered” letter from CS Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters on Facebook, which highlights how we often drown out Christmas while we are apparently celebrating it.
He told Eternity: “Well, I wrote it because the real message of Christmas is so precious and so glorious and yet to so many people it is obscured by the way we celebrate Christmas. That seems to be a rather terrible thing and so I wanted to highlight that there’s more to Christmas than what most of us spend our time and energy being anxious about.
“Christmas is certainly something to be celebrated, but I think our habits of excess in food and spending and so on don’t really reflect the best aspects of Christmas.
“Christmas is about the lavishness of God’s generosity in sending his son for us and the excesses we indulge in are a very pale imitation of the bounty of his generosity.”
With “profuse apologies” to CS Lewis, Raffel wrote on Facebook: “A new letter from Chief Demon Screwtape to his eager but inexperienced nephew Wormwood has recently come to light. As in the earlier letters, Screwtape refers to God as ‘the Enemy’ and to Christians as ‘patients’.”
Warning: this is parody of a parody!
My dear Wormwood
I know that the current season of celebration of that poser son of the Enemy may have you rather dismayed. But do not despair. For all the trappings and colour associated with this time of year, the profile of the wretched heir is more apparent than real. Many patients choose of their own volition to obscure his place in the scheme of things, for example, by wishing each other that most vacuous and timid of salutations – Happy Holidays or Compliments of the Season. My favorite is the fill-in-the-blanks greeting – Merry Xmas. And all this without the slightest prompting from us. It is wonderful.
Then again, all of their own accord, so many patients occupy themselves with endless rounds of partying and purchasing that they have literally no time for consideration of that sickening infant amidst the food trough straw; and by the time the day of celebration arrives not only are the vast majority exhausted and resentful of their diminished bank accounts but the day is certain to bring old tensions and unsettled disputes to the surface, in the midst of indulgences of roman proportions. There is much mischief to be made by gluttony, laziness, ingratitude, covetousness and sleepy indifference to the pretender King.
No, my dear Wormwood – it turns out that the best way to banish the thought of worshipping the blighted babe is to turn the volume on celebration to maximum so that patients are fully engaged with lists of things to be done, food to be cooked, presents to be selected, bought and wrapped, people to see, cards to send, holidays to plan and myriad other necessities while all the time convincing themselves that should they fail in any of these areas, they will spoil the whole thing for any number of other people who are utterly depending on them to produce the grandest day of the year.
With any luck, by the end of it, no one will remember what it was all about in the first place.
Your affectionate uncle,
Some prayer points to help
Please pray that amid all the mad busyness of the Christmas season, we pause to reflect on the hope that Jesus’ birth promises for those who have do not have laden tables as well as those who do.