Rev Mitchell Bunting - minister for Helensburgh United Reform Church, Dumbarton URC, Morison Memorial URC in Clydebank, and Essenside URC Drumchapel - reflects on the message of the festive season.


Having cold weather this December reminded me of experiencing snow in Bethlehem where Jesus was born.

High in the Judean hills it can get very cold and architecture more suited to summer heat does little to keep the warmth in. It made me think - would the shepherds have been out in the fields in the cold of winter? Or maybe this part of the story suggests Jesus was born in the spring?

We don’t really know the actual birthday of Jesus. We trace the origins of December 25 to the early centuries of the Church.

As the Roman Empire embraced Christianity so it came to pass that a festival was decreed to celebrate the Incarnation, that is God coming among us in the birth of Jesus. An existing winter festival was adapted (hijacked?) and the rest is history.

While we might blame the Romans for the date some of what has become mainstay is Victorian, other aspects the result of a successful advertising campaign by a popular soft drink company.

How far removed this seems from celebrating the incarnation – yet how close to the popularity of festivals ancient and modern. Folk need cheering up and enjoy a good time so it is no accident that in northern Europe we have a whole range of festival events in the cold, dark winter months.

In the middle of the winter at its coldest and with the longest nights we can celebrate the light of God coming into the world.

Wishing you a year of God’s blessing in 2023.