The best thing about Christmas is ...........
According to my younger daughter, presents. According to my husband, food. These, I stress, were their first reactions. They protest that given more time for reflection, they would have come up with more meaningful things like ‘family’.
I asked them about this as I was really struggling to feel Christmassy. It is very tricky trying to write a jolly Christmas article for the magazine when my head is still full of All Souls and Remembrance. This week, I am acutely aware of families who are grieving. And that’s before I reflect back on all the tragedy that has hit the news over the last year. Normally I enjoy the build up to Christmas, but at the moment the world seems a bleak and tragic place.
But then I think of candles. I am very fond of candles, whether at Christmas or any other time. The warmth and light of a candle flame seems to banish gloom and fear, bringing instead comfort and hope. Candles remind me of Christ, the light of the world. And, regardless of how Christmassy we are feeling, the reality that we celebrate at Christmas remains the same: God coming among us in the form of the baby Jesus.
At Christmas we can know just how much God loves us:
daring to take human form and ultimately to give up everything for us.
Because he lived as one of us, we can know that God shares our joys and our sorrows.
Because of Jesus our troubles have been lifted into the heart of God
and God’s strength is poured into our lives.
Because of all this, we can have hope that things can be different.
And in the light of Christmas, we can see that there is so much that is good in the world: so much compassion and courage, so much generosity and caring, so much determination to build a better world. So much that is well worth celebrating.
So regardless of how festive you are feeling, I pray that this Christmas you may be touched by the light that Christ brings, that you may experience something of the hope, peace and joy that is his gift to us at Christmas.
And the best thing about Christmas celebrations? Cheesy footballs, of course.
May I wish you a blessed Advent and a very Happy Christmas.Alice (Rector)