The Real Fairytale of New York

I've got a feeling

This year's for me and you

So happy Christmas

I love you baby

I can see a better time

When all our dreams come true

When you first took my hand

On a cold Christmas Eve

You promised me

Broadway was waiting for me

You were handsome

You were pretty

Queen of New York City

When the band finished playing

They howled out for more

Sinatra was swinging

All the drunks they were singing

We kissed on the corner

Then danced through the night

When the Pogues belt out this uplifting Irishy number you can't help but go with it. The fairytale of New York tells the story of a couple at Christmas and looks at how in love they seem. They look hopefully in the future knowing that now they are together all their dreams will come true. He's handsome, she's pretty, they kiss and all is magical. But we all know what's coming.

You're a bum

You're a punk

You're an old slut on junk

Living there almost dead

On a drip in that bed

You scum bag

You maggot

You cheap lousy faggot

Happy Christmas your arse

I pray God

It's our last

How did it go so wrong? What happened? In the time it took them to sing 'and the boys of the NYPD choir...' it's gone from them dancing through the night to abusing each other.

I did a quick poll in my office and discovered that the only two choices for favourite Christmas songs were 'Last Christmas' and this one. Both of which talk of dreaming of something magical only for it to disappoint. Now maybe I'm surrounded by cynics but the truth is we like these songs because we know that they speak some truth. In our world good things go bad. That's what happens. We get fed up of songs that are simply just 'isn't everything great' because they make us feel even more crappy about all the hopes and dreams which we have had which have disappointed.

The question is why do good things go bad? Why can't good things just stay good? Why can't they get better? Why for thousands of years of human history have good things continued to go bad? The Bible's answer is that our world has rejected the God who made it and as such we have messed ourselves up. The planet suffers from decay and death and as in this song so do our relationships. We know they should be good but they so often go bad. So we live in this weird world. The world of the fairytale of New York. A world of incredible joys, really good things to be enjoyed but also incredible sorrows and bad things we wish would go away.

However good your Christmas is it cannot alter this fact.

But at Christmas we remember the one great act that promises to alter this. Christmas is the account of a God who lives in a world with no badness, no decay and no suffering, coming to this world and experiencing all of the joys and sorrows which we battle with. We see him ultimately taking those sorrows on himself as through his life he is rejected and ultimately tortured and killed all so that in exchange he can offer us a future in a world where good things stay good, where good things get better and where the second half of fairytale of New York is not a reality we all have to face up to.

guest post by Ben Parker

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Christmas can be better than you think

Genesis 3: 8–19
8And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" 10And he said, "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself." 11He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" 12The man said, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." 13Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." 14The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." 16To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." 17And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

Isn't this a bit of a depressing reading for Christmas? Surely we want to be hearing something about the goodness of humanity, the brotherhood of man, something that fits in with the idea that Christmas brings out the best in us. That's what we want to hear at Christmas because Christmas has become about pretending things are better than they are. This is exactly what Ben Preston, editor of the Radio Times, says in the Christmas issue of his magazine:
"Sometimes we really need a good Christmas. Time to hunker down with friends and family - to indulge ourselves and keep troubled times at bay. This is such a Christmas."

We imagine and plan for the ideal time with friends and family, trying to ignore that there's something wrong with the world. But there is something wrong, and even if we can push it to the back of our mind for a day or two, it's still there.

This reading diagnoses that problem. Like Adam and Eve, we try to become like God, we try to make the world revolve around us and it doesn't work. We are not keen on the idea that the problem is down to us so, again, we follow the pattern set by Adam and Eve and we shift the blame. It's my partner/parent/kid/boss/friend/government's fault, if they would change, the problems would go away. Except it can't change anything - we toil and then die, and God says that is because of our rebellion against him.

The message of Christmas is so much more than pretending that everything is better than it is. It is so much more than forgetting about your problems for a few days. It's much more than a bit of a celebration to make us feel better. It's more than reminding us about the importance of family. It's more than a chance to slow down a bit and relax. It's better than all of that because God has a solution to the problem. God reveals His plan in verse 15 - the woman's offspring who would have his heel bruised but would crush Satan's head - Jesus. In response to Adam and Eve's rebellion, and in response to ours, God did not cut us off but sent Jesus - born to a virgin, died on a cross, raised 3 days later conquering Satan, sin and death. That's the good news of Christmas.

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