This was written on over 300 candles distributed to children in Primary Six from schools across Hamilton, Hillhouse and Blantyre as part of the Calderside Chaplaincy Team‘s ‘Bubblegum ‘n’ Fluff’ Christmas event.
Bubblegum ‘n’ Fluff is a 2 hour long event, where we explore the true meaning of Christmas. After discussing the amount of things that are done in advance of Christmas commercially, we moved on to illustrating the need for us to move these things aside (not get rid of them!) in order that we may get back to the core meaning of Christmas and the celebration of Christ’s birth that we mark at this time. Through storytelling, drama, craft, games and extra accurate scientific experiments, we explore this idea in depth while having fun and, of course, learning the Bubblegum ‘n’ Fluff song!
Since I began working with the team last year at Calderside Academy, I had heard a great deal about this event with kids spontaneously singing the song once in a while, I was curious to see how this event had made such an impression, which had remained with them for at least a couple of years! Having had the pleasure of being able to take part in the putting together and delivery of many parts of the event, I very quickly saw how this was the case.
The programme allows for children to explore Christmas in a very non-threatening environment where views, opinions and experiences are incredibly well respected. Nothing is rammed down a pupil’s throat, no one is made to feel that they are more right or wrong than their peers and yet a very powerful message is put across. Children soon realise that the tree, the cards, the gifts, the turkey are not what Christmas is all about and soon, they remember that it is the birth of Jesus that we celebrate with these items as ‘bolt-ons’. They are not made to feel that these things are wrong as they are not, but it is hoped that through what they have learned during their time at Bubblegum ‘n’ Fluff that they will take a moment on Christmas Day to take the candle they were given and light it so that the light of Christ – the light of the world – may shine upon those around them this Christmas and beyond.
While we were enjoying a coffee following one of the gatherings, a few of us found a number of broken mosaic tiles amongst the trays laid out for the children. After collecting these and perhaps making a couple of broken ones ourselves to help us along the way (!), we put them together to produce this:
When Peter realised that we could use the straight edges of the tiles to make the outline of a cross, the rest was history. Soon we had a very powerful message upon our tile. Even in our broken or fractured world, Christ is there. Christ is there when we feel like our emotions are shattered, our minds fractured, our hearts broken. Christ is there when we feel that we are left to put the pieces of our life back together alone or when we are struggling to help others with the emotional jigsaw that lies before them…
When we recognise the love of Christ and the warmth of his embrace which surrounds us as our cracks and fractures heal, it is the love that Christ has for us as it is our love for Christ which can be the glue which holds these parts together once more.
The preparations are almost complete – the candles of hope, peace, joy and love have been lit, surrounding the imminent illumination of the central candle that is Christ – the light of our world; the cards have been written; the letters to Santa have been posted; the CD players are roasting with Christmas discs on loop… The time is almost upon us to reflect, to celebrate, to rejoice, to give thanks for God’s greatest gift of all, whose birth we remember in a matter of days.
Shine a light this Christmas. May the light of Christ glow in your hearts and homes. May that light shine through the cracks in our being, for even in our brokenness, the love of Jesus Christ shines brightly.