From the Associate Priest - December 2020

Dear Friends,

christmas“How are we all going to celebrate Christmas 2020?” “This Christmas will be different! “ “There is no way we can provide the ‘normal’ Christmas this year.” How many times have you heard one, or indeed all, of the above in the last month I wonder. I have lost count and I am seriously fed up with the endless speculation, a feeling I am sure echoed by many of you. Even if we do come out of Lockdown on the 3rd. Dec. there is no way any responsible government will give ‘carte blanche’ so that everyone can do just as they wish, some forms of restriction will have to apply to keep everyone safe and well.

So, what will Christmas be like this year?

The national obsession with the answer to “what will be allowed at Christmas?” says much about what Christmas means to most of us. It is important on so many fronts, a time for family get togethers, a time for everyone to sit down to Lunch together, a time to meet up with family you have not seen all year. A time for eating, drinking and the giving of expensive gifts. It is these things which are most likely to be affected by that decision on the 2nd. but, is that all Christmas is really about?

I do not think that Mary and Joseph actually wanted to spend the birth of their firstborn so far away from home. Where the birth actually happened was decided by government, by the ruling conquerors, the Romans. it was Rome who insisted on having a Census, a count of all their conquered subjects, and furthermore that it should take place in the town or city which signified the particular Tribe to which each belonged. For Joseph and Mary that happened to be Bethlehem in Judea, a long way from Nazareth where Joseph had his home and business. Of course, we also know that this was prophesied so God had something to do with it as well!

However it came about, that very first Christmas came at a time when everyone was forced to be somewhere not of their own choosing, to make journeys not wanted or easy, when everyone had to make do and mend, to make the best of a bad situation , and the result? From all that confusion and worry came the wonderful, magical events of the first Christmas. The stories of the Shepherds in the countryside, the Angels, the Stable with the Manger and the animals because there was “no room” at the Inn. None of that would have been the same in busy Nazareth. Think of all the lovely Nativity plays you have seen and the way it all comes together and imparts a feeling of love and wonder.

At the heart of Christmas is Love. God’s love for the whole of His creation, His wish to bring us back to Him and His gift of His Son, Jesus, the greatest gift ever given to anyone, by anyone, anywhere! No matter what changes in our family traditions this year God’s loving gift does not. That is unchanging, everlasting.

I hope that at least the churches will be open for some of our Christmas Services, that we shall be able to gather, even if socially distanced, to remember and give thanks, to have some sharing. But whatever happens, however we are allowed to celebrate Christmas 2020, let us decide to make it the best we can. Make Christmas 2020 memorable. Let’s look at what Mary and Joseph did and see if we can follow their example. Perhaps, like their story, we shall create some new, magical traditions which we shall want to keep forever.

A very Happy Christmas to You All.

June