Reflection for Christmas Day
“Do not be afraid; I bring you good news” – from St Luke 2:1-14.
Cymru, sicrhewch eich bod yn cael eich cyfrif
Wales, make sure you are counted – envelope of the 2021 census documentation.
It was one of those lovely coincidences that the envelope bearing the above words should arrive here on Christmas Eve, a reminder of the census two thousand years ago that was the reason for Joseph and Mary’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be counted. Coinciding also with the Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, the planetary event which some have likened to the Star of Bethlehem, there are resonances of the Gospel accounts in the events of today as Christmas is celebrated in the challenging circumstances facing us all.
Then, there was no room to be found in Bethlehem, but many stranded lorry drivers recently found there was no room for them in Dover either and that they wouldn’t get home for Christmas. Threats of food and other shortages seem to have faded now that a trade agreement has been reached with Europe but, with many families’ plans suddenly disrupted, the daily drip of doom and complaint seems to have rocketed recently. Yet, into this uncertain situation, still the angelic voice which spoke to the terrified shepherds speaks to us today as the birth of Jesus is celebrated once more. Then, as now, the good news is proclaimed that a Saviour has been born in Bethlehem – and it was announced to those who were able to hear the message through being out on the hillsides looking after the sheep rather than mingling with others.
This year, the pandemic means that many are alone or forced to have a quieter Christmas than usual and that some families are mourning the loss of loved ones or anxious about the future. However, it may be that the sudden curtailing of the usual festivities might make us all reconsider what is important in our lives and what we so often take for granted. Into our confusion, fear and isolation comes the voice of hope once more telling us that God is with us, Emmanuel, and that there is good news amidst all the woes. Where might that good news be for each one of us – what makes you rejoice this Christmas?
We have a choice, like those shepherds, who could have refused the invitation to see for themselves – amongst the unexpected developments we are all facing, this quieter Christmas, we may be confronted with the silence that forces us to face up to what we may usually be able to drown out with noise and socialising. If we choose to, we may find the courage not to be afraid but to look for where the good news and hope might be in the quieter joys facing us. That may enable us not only to hear the song of the angels in our hearts but also to join in the ancient hymn of praise:
“Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace.”
With my prayers,