BART Group of Churches
It will still be Christmas
So often I see people, these days, on some kind of video call and I forget how long it is since I have seen them ‘for real’. It’s just one of the many dislocating impacts of the pandemic. We had no idea this was coming and yet somehow we find our way, in the new normal. Or is it the new different?
All of us are feeling some kind of dislocation — for some the impact is greater than for others. Of course we know that this is life. The unexpected can always happen; our plans can always be overturned by events. Sadly, loss comes to us all. Individually we all experience those life-changing times. For whole communities, the dislocation caused by conflict, poverty, injustice, disease has for too long been part of daily life. Now in some way we all share a sense of uncertainly, a sense of not knowing what happens next — of not knowing what tomorrow, next year or even this Christmas will look like.
We will observe Christmas differently this year. Whatever the pandemic guidelines may be, may we follow them responsibly, having a care for our neighbour and especially for the vulnerable, even if it means we cannot do all we might have wished for.
We will observe Christmas differently; but it will still be Christmas. Christmas will still be and will always be at the heart of the greatest story of hope we can know. Even when we see fewer people this year, even when we do not gather to sing carols together as we have done in the past, even when we have fewer services of worship in our churches this year*, even so, nothing can change the message of Christmas. Christmas is the celebration of God come to be with us, of God come to live among us, in Jesus. Christmas is the message of hope that God is in control, that God has an overarching plan and it is a plan for good, a plan for restoration, a plan for renewal. For the Christmas baby, Jesus, in the manger, God with us, is the man, Jesus, on the Easter cross, still God with us. Jesus is God with us, who out of love gave his life for ours, to rescue us and restore our relationship with God, if we will have it.
It doesn’t even stop there; because a restored relationship with God opens up a whole new life, both in the here and now and forever. A restored relationship with God opens up a whole new way of being, a whole new way of understanding what matters, even when our own plans are broken, a whole new experience of valuing the gift of each day, even when we are not certain what the day will bring, a whole new hope that all will, in some way, be well, even though we cannot make it so ourselves, a whole new focus on caring for others, when we want to share how much God cares for and love us.
However we may observe Christmas, the Christmas message will always be at the heart of God’s love for his whole creation, for you and for me. The Christmas message will always be that God is with us, now and always, in the good times and the hard times — in these times — and that he is making everything new. This will always be the Christian message of hope.
May you know the blessings and hope of Christmas, most especially this year.
They will call him Immanuel — which means, God with us. Matthew 1:23
*Yes, like everything else, our Christmas services will be different — but it will still be Christmas.... have a look on the Worship Page to see what will be happening