In this unusual year, it seems as if Chris Rea has been driving home for Christmas since October, and no-one’s quite sure if he’ll actually make it. We all have so many ideas, from our childhoods, from the images on our Christmas cards, from what we see on TV, of what our ideal Christmas’ might look like. But we find ourselves in 2020, and many of things we hope for are not possible.
As we reflect on the first Christmas, we find that was a messy story too. Mary, unmarried Mary – having a child – would she be suspected of adultery? Joseph – would they think his wife was tainted? Did he really want to go through with this? If Mary & Joseph had knocked on your door, would you welcome them in?
The visitors at the stable, the shepherds. I know we like to picture them with their nice, clean, white tea-towels on their heads, but there’s every chance that they were smelly & dirty. They’d been sleeping rough, in the fields, these were the first visitors on that first Christmas. Is that who you would want to celebrate the birth of your child with?
The wise men, would you have let in these strangers from the east? Illegal immigrants? Foreigners? They’d been following the stars, speaking a different language. Are these the visitors you would choose at Christmas?
So if you’ve bought into the perfect Christmas picture, and are feeling slightly dissatisfied or disappointed, think back to those outsiders at that first Christmas. There is no such thing as a perfect Christmas.
Jesus was born into mess, confusion, and uncomfortable surroundings, so that we might know something of the truth that God is love. My prayer is that this Christmas, amongst the twinkling lights, we each might get a glimpse of light, of hope, of love. And to remember that the best gift we can give another this season is the gift of love.
This year, so much of what we used to take for granted has been thrown into question, and so much of what we now do is taking more work, risk assessments and thinking through than ever before. We are sorry that we have not been able to get our magazine out as usual, we hope you will understand.
This Christmas, all our services are on our YouTube and Faceabook sites:
If you choose to come to any of the services in the building, please note that facemasks are required at all times in the building and singing is not permitted. Our numbers are limited due to social distancing, so we encourage you to join in from home if that is possible for you.
We hope you have a Happy and safe Christmas, however you choose to spend it, and we look forward to all that 2021 will bring.
May the grace of Christ bring you hope and joy,
and may the peace of Christ be yours.
May Jesus, the Lord, the miracle of God,
fill your heart with Christmas love.
Christmas blessings from us all at St Mark’s Church, Pennington,