'Christmas truly is about the announcement of great joy' - Northampton's Father Oliver Coss pens festive message

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Father Oliver Coss from All Saints Church, Northampton has written this Christmas message

If my household is like any other, then it’s likely that Christmas this year has been preceded by lots of illness. For about two weeks or so (and as the media passed on less-than-glad news of heightened rates of Strep A and Scarlet Fever) the children first passed on news of many absences at school, and then themselves came down with various signs of some sort of seasonal lurgy.

Such things sometimes decide to be more of an inconvenience than others, and while two bouts of covid this year left our household with nothing more than tiredness and irritation, there have been various trips to see the medics and some slightly anxious waits to see whether out pharmacist is well-stocked.

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It’s not huge fun being ill when so much in the nation seems to be in crisis, and not least for those attempting to access medical help. I’m penning these brief words on a day when ambulance workers are striking, and the new year promises more of the same across different parts of society.

Father Oliver Coss issues Christmas message to Northampton.Father Oliver Coss issues Christmas message to Northampton.
Father Oliver Coss issues Christmas message to Northampton.

After two years of disruptions, and now all these crises and conflicts that have local, national, and international consequences, it seems tempting to resort to the worn-out cliché that we’re going to be celebrating Christmas in exceptional, or very challenging circumstances, this year.

My suspicion is that we’re going to need to do better than that if we’re going to get our society and our communities out of this rut. And that’s because Christmas truly is about the announcement of great joy in the midst of real life.

The joy doesn’t wait to come until we’re ready, and still less will it pause while we get ourselves sorted out. Jesus arrives in the middle of a census, with all the travelling and chaos and last-minute preparation you’d think.

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So if you have the opportunity this year, think not about how exceptional or difficult things are. The joy of the Christchild will come to us in whatever condition it finds us, and at All Saints that’ll mean gathering in the dark, at 11.30pm on Christmas Even, and lighting every candle we can lay our hands on. And as the light brightens, it will dispel the night in to which we shall sing, growing louder each time, ‘O come, let us adore him’.