Hoping for a good Christmas? Hoping for a relaxing few weeks? Hoping for everything to go smoothly with all the things you’ve planned? Hoping that we don’t forget anything?
There are things we may be looking forward to; whatever your beliefs, Christmas is a time of celebration. Christians remember the birth of Jesus, for others it might simply be an opportunity relax, time off work, spend time with family and/or friends, eat lots of nice food!
Some though, might not be looking forward to the excitement of Christmas morning, perhaps they are dreading it, or stressed about not being ready yet. Beneath all the tinsel and the wrappings, there are still some things people struggle with; Christmas can be a hard time – especially if we’re feeling sad for some reason, or if we’re lonely and on our own, or struggling with a hard experience. Just because it’s Christmas, doesn’t mean that all our problems suddenly disappear; we may be longing for things to change; longing for miracle cures for our loved ones, longing for death to be undone, longing for an end to worry and pain and poverty.
But the sister of longing is hope. To long for, is to believe, in some hopeful corner of our hearts, in a better future – even if that future is seemingly impossible.
The Christmas Story is a message of good news for bad times; whatever we feel about Christmas, and all the gifts and food and family meals and crackers and hats, Santa Claus and fairy lights – Christmas only really exists because of the amazing story of a baby being born into an uncomfortable place, and so it’s not surprising that it’s this time of year when we perhaps think especially of those less fortunate than ourselves.
You may recall reading about my night spent in the queue for the late Queen’s lying-in-state back in September; I almost spent another long sleepless night in London just this week. I was one of the unfortunate drivers that got stuck on the M25 in Hertfordshire on Sunday night when heavy snow fell onto a cold road surface, and it seems that there had been no salt or grit spread on the road; no preparation for what was to come. Thankfully the season of goodwill extended to HGV drivers on Sunday night and a number of them donned fluorescent jackets and armed with shovels and their strength managed to push several cars onto the single-track route through abandoned vehicles, slowly, carefully to continue our journeys.
In a world characterised by uncertainty, instability, where people seem driven by personal gain, here we saw acts of kindness and goodwill. The drivers weren’t going anywhere, their vehicles had most likely jack-knifed, or their tachograph timers were up. I longed for the snow to stop, for the snowplough to come, for daylight; I hoped that I might be rescued before daybreak to continue my journey. Thankfully the season of goodwill to all men was in evidence on the M25 on Sunday evening!
May your Christmas sparkle with moments of love, laughter and goodwill.