Here we are again preparing for Christmas. It seems to come around with alarming regularity, doesn’t it? I hope that at some point in the next month or so you will have time to slow down and remember what lies at the very heart of Christmas.
This year our theme is light shining in the darkness.
I don’t know about you but as the nights get longer and we are engulfed in darkness (well, semi-darkness in London), the world seems a very different place. Gone are the long days of summer; our lighter clothes are relegated to their winter home and going out without a coat is not a good idea; gone are the salads, in come the casseroles. Somehow there seems to be a different pace to life; maybe we’re really supposed to hibernate.
The climate in Britain follows the ebbs and flows of life and we may well prefer the warmer days of summer, and yet each season offers us an opportunity to reflect. These next few months are no exception. December is a time of preparation, of generosity and giving; a time for thinking of others and being together. It can also be a time of stress and loneliness and we mustn’t forget that, for some, it has to be endured rather than enjoyed. However, it gives us all an opportunity to stop and think about what it means to have God with us, shining a light in what can seem a very dark world indeed. Christmas and New Year offer us hope – a time of reflection and celebration for what has been and hope for what is to come.
Some of our newspapers delight in telling us what is good for us and what is bad for us: Blueberries are good, mobile phones are bad. Keeping fit is good, running too much is bad for your knees. You know the sort of thing. New research is expounded at great length, most of it we take with a pinch of salt as it’s too confusing and contradictory. However, one such piece of research caught my attention the other day. It said ‘Singing is good for you’, or, more particularly, singing with other people is good for you, very good for you, and evidently enjoyable. As if we didn’t already know that. I like singing even though I need a congregation to drown me out. I wonder if that is why Christians are (according to more research) in general happier and live longer than the average person who doesn’t have the opportunity to sing and give thanks every week. Singing enables us to express emotions and thoughts that lie beneath the surface. As we harmonise and blend our voices together we are in some strange way lifted out of ourselves into a different space. A good sing can indeed make us feel better, and if we can sing with gusto it is even more effective.
Fortunately we have many opportunities to sing together and to enjoy listening to others singing. We can enjoy Theatre Club’s Christmas entertainment on the 10th December, we can sing our advent hymns and well known Carols as we prepare for Christmas. There’s the gift service at the beginning of the month, followed by the JMA awards (well done everyone again), then we have Carol Service with nativity, the Christmas Eve communion at Wesley Hall this year followed a few hours later by our Christmas day celebration. Lots of opportunities so let’s all sing our hearts out this Christmas time – not only are we celebrating the birth of our saviour but it’s officially good for us: Alleluia!
Tony and I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas.