Well here we are again in December and my mind is filled with a chaotic mish mash of thoughts about all the stuff going on at church and at home, not least the production of epic quantities of food to squirrel away in the freezer ready for when the family arrives. As I put the second chocolate roulade in the freezer basket a terrible thought occurred to me; what if the freezer broke down with all the Christmas goodies in it? It doesn’t bear thinking about.
At this time of year I always feel conflicted about the whole Christmas shebang, clearly not about the actual event we are supposed to be celebrating, namely, the birth of Christ, but about the business of over consumption. I feel uneasy not just in terms of excessive food and presents, but in the myth of the perfect Christmas with a perfect turkey, perfect table settings, perfectly curated matching decorations and a perfect always smiling family to enjoy it all.
In the light of all the restrictions we were living with last Christmas maybe we have realised that perfection doesn’t matter, being with the people we love is what matters. But no family is perfect, and all will have areas of conflict and tension that might well emerge when people spend a great deal of time together, mine included; someone is bound to go off in a huff, lose their temper or take exception to something or someone at some point or another.
Please spare a thought for all those who have no family to speak of or whose experience of family life is very broken and sad, and for those who have no home to decorate or friends to celebrate with; this Christmas I am acutely aware of just how privileged I am, if all I have got to worry about is my freezer breaking down then I am lucky indeed. I have been thinking about how I can hold that beautiful, essentially simple story of Emmanuel, God with us, being born to share our human life in all its joy and terrible brokenness, in tandem with the reality of the darkness and pain so evident in our world today. It is only a little thing but like many of you, I have tried to buy my Christmas crackers, cards, etc from charities I support so at least the money is contributing to something worthwhile. I did moot the idea of not having crackers but it didn’t go down very well.
What I am trying to say is Christmas is wonderful but let us not forget we are immensely privileged in being able to enjoy it in the way we do. As I make my mince pies I will be praying for you and especially for those for whom the season is particularly difficult this year. I pray that whether you are busy looking after those you love or with us in church, the light of God’s loving presence will be real for you this Christmas. May the peace and joy of Christmas be yours.
Love and prayers,