It must nearly be Christmas, John Lewis has just launched its Seasonal Advert… not a crib, wise man or donkey in sight – just a flaming dragon!
Of course this year, amongst the pretty lights, tinsel and wall to wall mince pies, once again there is renewed hope and anticipation as we await the arrival of one long-hoped to bring peace, freedom, hope, good will and joy to all men.
…That’s right, by Christmas we’ll have a new / old / coalition* Prime Minister (*please delete as applicable). Then in the New Year we’ll all be able to enjoy afresh the joy of climbing back onto the Brexit merry-go-round.
You may be forgiven for detecting a somewhat disparaging tone and, if I’m honest, it can be draining listening to endless news reports of division, disharmony and backbiting along with the genuinely alarming climate changes and global crises our groaning world appears to be experiencing: Do we have a future? Is there a way out of this mess? Is there any hope…?
I heard a report, a few years ago, from a village school nativity service where a little boy, wanting to play the part of Joseph, was, to his great irritation, given instead the part of the innkeeper. Appearing to accept the decision, he quietly got on with practising his part of the play. However, on the day of the performance, in front of a packed hall of parents, the boy took his revenge. When Joseph and Mary asked if there was any room in his inn, abandoning the script, he stood back, with door wide open and simply yelled, ‘absolutely, there’s loads of room; come on in!’
This time of year, we of course remember and anticipate the celebration of Jesus’ birth, not only because it’s a great excuse for a party, but also because this unique birth and life gives hope to all. Hope for the future. Hope in the darkness. Hope in the midst of crisis and mess. Hope like a flood, that has the power to overwhelm fear, in our rapidly changing world.
When that little child was born some 2000 years ago, only a few witnessed, and even less understood, the global significance, the earth-shaking and time-shattering intervention of God: The incarnation – God with skin on, heaven touching earth.
Hope has a face. Hope has a name. It’s Jesus.
2019 soon will give way to 2020, and I wonder whether this new year we’ll allow ourselves to see things in a new way – perhaps in a truer way. With renewed hope, perhaps with perfectly restored ’20-20 vision’, bringing the words of this popular and familiar hymn to life:
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art –
Thou my best thought, by day or by night;
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light
This Christmas may your hope and joy be renewed as you look to Him. And, like that little boy in the play, may we all make room for Him in our hearts and in turn hear His words to us: ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.’
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all
Have a wonderful and Hope-filled Christmas,
Love Tim, Sarah, Ellie, Sam & Joey x