Christmas is many things to many people. Homes all over the world will be full of laughter and joy as presents are opened and wonderful food consumed in the presence of loved ones. Children and wise adults will soak up the magic of it all and even if only for a time will allow themselves to be transported in time and space to a place where all is well with the world, where people do look out for and look after one another. Even if only briefly, hearts will be full of hope, whether they know it or not, a hope that reflects that Great Hope which came into the world.
Not all homes and families will be full of laughter and happiness. Bereavement and grief are never more keenly felt than at this time of year. The vacant chair at the table will never have seemed so empty, the echoes of laughter and happiness of bygone years never so vividly played out in bittersweet memory. Perhaps more than for several generations on this Island, countless homes will be under the stress of uncertainty at what the New Year will bring. How will we be able to afford to keep living in our home? Will I still have a job in a few weeks or months time? Will the children mind having presents that are much less than what they really wanted?
In the intensity of the celebration it seems that highs are higher and lows lower, hopes greater and fears magnified, but no matter how much the secular push against celebrating Christmas persists, it cannot take away something that has been there for generations and will adamantly remain until the end of time, namely hope.
There are many Scrooges today who would say ‘Bah! Humbug’ and would seek to diminish and undermine in any way they can this most wonderful of Christian celebrations. I am reminded of what Scrooge’s Nephew says to his uncle near the beginning of Charles Dickens’ great story, ‘A Christmas Carol’:
‘But I am sure that I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round – apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that – as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good and will do me good; and I say, God bless it.’
God bless it indeed. Never have we been blessed more; Jesus Christ came into the world on a rescue mission so daring and so wonderful that it brings joy and peace to even the most troubled heart that to that Christ says “Yes Lord, be born in my heart this day.”
A very merry Christmas to you all and “God bless Us, Every One!”