Christmas is a mixture of good news and bad news.
Time off work, families together, happy children: that’s good news. Celebrations, parties, carol services: more good news. Gifts given and received, special food and drink, goodwill to neighbours: genuine good news. Special meals for the homeless and the lonely, extra treats for children in hospital, the Queen’s TV message: heartwarming good news. And the list could go on.
On the other side: people homeless, food banks needed, children hungry: that is bad news. The Ebola nightmare continuing, torture and beheadings in the 21st century, hurricanes and storms devastating communities: horrifyingly bad news. Old people alone, broken families, children abused: unspeakably bad news. Mental illness increasing, people not coping, suicides up at Christmas: depressingly bad news. And that list could go on too.
What a strange time Christmas is. The best of times and the worst of times. Which will it be for you and yours this year?
Christmas is full of contradictions. The Son of God born in a stable. God breaking into this world through a very ordinary family. Good news announced, but babies slaughtered by a brutal and fearful ruler. Peace and goodwill offered, but Jesus’ family forced out as refugees. Christmas is a vivid picture of the contradictions and confusions of life.
Can we make sense of this? Can we find joy and peace, love and hope, in the midst of our messy world and our messed-up lives?
Definitely: yes we can. Jesus is about God’s love for each one of us. God coming to the poor and the broken. Love offered to the unlovely and the fearful. Peace held out to the bully and to those who are hurting.
This Christmas, in Jesus’ name: help someone in need, do something special for someone who isn’t expecting it, give a bit of yourself away. And let Jesus help you, do something for you, give himself to you.
Have a very happy Christmas.
The Rt Revd Donald Allister