I am delighted to report that, like the first cuckoo of spring, I have seen my first house decorated for Christmas. At one level I know I should hold the line — it’s not even Advent and as a child Christmas lights were never allowed before Christmas Eve (or just possibly the weekend before that). This year, it has made me very happy, a sign in my mind at least, that even in the darkness of this dark winter with the many challenges that surround us, we still have hope, a desire for the light to shine in the darkness. A sign that people still have hope.
We know, most of us, that our celebration will be a little different this year, it is even reflected in the John Lewis advert. A simpler Christmas, one in which excess seems out of place, one that focuses our thought on what really matters to us, what matters in our fractured world, what matters to those we love, to look for the glimmering of the light in the darkness, and to #FollowTheStar that leads us not to a palace but to a stable and to the birth of the Messiah in the very mess of life. This is the true light, the light that gives me hope, the light I want to share this Christmas and this coming year, the light I pray that we will share in our invitation and worship in these coming weeks. The light that is Jesus the word made flesh, who the darkness cannot overcome.
It is an amazing thing that God, the creator of heaven and earth should come in Jesus Christ to share our life. In Jesus, we meet with God Almighty who shares in our human existence, and who experiences the life we experience. The birth of Jesus that we celebrate, begins the story of our salvation, which takes us through words of peace and miracles of hope to the darkness of the cross and the morning star of resurrection and to life in all its fullness offered for all.
This is hope indeed, longed for in the lights that will appear in homes, places of work, places of gathering, and in our church buildings across our communities, the hope answered in the birth we celebrate.
In the mess of this Christmas the birth of Jesus is good news indeed, news in which we can rejoice and which with confidence we can share.
For more resources to help in your parish and community as you invite people to worship this Christmas visit the Church of England’s Follow The Star web page at https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/resources-advent-and-christmas.