Junes Jottings 

Christmas is well and truly on the way and it is about now I start pestering
Adrian to get the decorations down from the loft, to check the tree out to
see if it will last another year, do we have enough baubles? Enough tinsel?
Enough LIGHTS! and then I start planning where the tree is going to go –
will we decorate the ceiling this year? People ask me what colour scheme I
am going for – gaudy is a colour scheme isn’t it?
And then the lists start. The lists for christmas shopping – how many want
turkey this year? How many are vegetarian? How many want Christmas
pud? How many would rather stand outside in a full on blizzard in nothing
but a swimsuit rather than eat Christmas pud?
And then there is all of the planning for Christmas services – nativity services and Carols by Candlelight, special services in all of the schools in the
town, and planning for the churches together Christmas extravaganza! By
now I am getting my nativity costume ready, finding and adapting Christmas scripts, and planning how much mulled wine and how many mince
pies we will need to feed everyone after the carol service. EXCITING!
And then there are all the plans to be made at home, presents to buy, food
to buy, music to be played! (its not Christmas until Noddy Holder shouts it
from my record player!) – and where on earth is everyone going to sleep
when they descend on us – will it just be my lot or will there be extras (why
do I ask ? There are ALWAYS extras, its part of the fun!) When will we
fetch grandad so that we can all tease him when he falls asleep on Christmas afternoon with his paper crown on. By the time Christmas Day comes
I have been so excited for so long I am exhausted!
But this year feels different. Coming at the end of a difficult, COVID-19
filled year, plans have had to be changed, adapted, or even cancelled this
year – there will be no huge carol service, no gallons of mulled wine or
boxes and boxes of mince pies, there will probably be no singing – and the
chances of family being allowed to gather together? Who knows!?
I have heard so many people say things like ‘Christmas is cancelled this
year’ and whilst I know what they are getting at, I would like to politely disagree with them. Yes, lots of things will be cancelled this year, yes lots of
things will be smaller this year, yes Christmas might look and feel very
different this year – but actually Christmas will still happen.
Over 2000 years ago now, on a starry night in Bethlehem a very special
baby was born; John in his gospel described this baby as the light of the
world, the light that could not be extinguished, the light that the darkness
could never put out. This year more than ever the darkness seems really
close, so many people who thought they had job and home security last
year, now don’t – after months of furlough times are tough, jobs are precarious, homes are at risk. So many people around us are living in fear of
this virus, frightened not for ourselves necessarily but for those we love
who are vulnerable. And so this year we might have to make the decision
to not gather together, so that the next time we do gather no one is missing from the table!
This year, so many of the trimmings and trappings of Christmas are gone,
this year so many of the things that we do – the parties, the celebrating,
the noise and the bustle – we just can’t do. My prayer for all of us is that in
this strangeness, in this unusual quiet we will notice again the light of the
world, that we will gather again around that manger where the Prince of
Glory lays, the one who will change the course of all human and cosmic
history. Yes, lots of things will be cancelled this year – but Christmas isn’t.
May we get a clearer view of the manger, may we get a deeper understanding of the events that happened, and may we be transformed in the
presence of God himself, born as a baby that first Christmas day.