We are well and truly on the countdown to Christmas and yet, if I'm being honest, it feels really difficult to get into the Christmas Spirit in the current climate. Decisions that most of the time without even thinking, have become much harder and celebrations somehow feel like a pale imitation of what we would have hoped for. Firstly, I want to say that it's okay to be disappointed, to be conflicted, to be worried or anything else you may be feeling. You don't have force yourself to put on a happy face in a rubbish situation. No decision we make this year will be perfect, as Professor Chris Whitty pointed out, all the choices in front of us are bad at the moment. All we can do is try to make the best decision we can in the individual circumstances we are in.
The Christmas story is all about finding hope and joy in a really bleak situation. Beneath the familiar story is a real situation of stress, fear and constant threat. Today women often share the stories of the birth of their children like veterans sharing war stories. Some are very harrowing indeed and yet very few come close to the desperate circumstances of the birth of Jesus. Despite all of these circumstances, what shines through is a message of hope, peace, love and above all the overwhelming presence of God.
Perhaps this year won't be a Hallmark Christmas, perhaps celebrations might be a bit of a damp squib compared to other years but I suspect that the wisdom of Dr Suess might be very apt:
He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. Maybe Christmas, he thought...doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps...means a little bit more!
Perhaps the big get together with family and friends will have to wait (I know our family are hoping that maybe we can have a bigger celebration at Easter instead). But maybe this year can still be special as we choose to focus on God, invite him to be present and allow him to truly be God with us. Things maybe a little bit quieter but I find that it is often in the quiet where God is most easily found.
If you would appreciate resources to help with that, the Church of England's Christmas campaign this year is called Comfort and Joy and everyday, from Christmas Day onwards there will be a short reflection for us to engage with. You can download the Comfort and Joy app from your app store or physical booklets are available to buy online. More information is available here.
We're going ahead with various Christmas events over the next few days and, for most of these there will be a Zoom option as well as an in person option to try to make it accessible to as many of us as possible. For up to date information on our Christmas events, have a look on our website or keep an eye out on Weekly News.
Hope to see you soon.