Sunday reflection

Reflection for the second Sunday of Advent.

Driving in the dark recently, I was struck by how many Christmas lights and decorations are up and shining brightly when it’s the early days of Advent and Christmas Day is still three weeks away. Advent is a time of preparation and waiting but, understandably after so miserable a time, many people seem to want to begin the festive celebrations early. Uncertainty still prevails as Omicron gets into circulation but, due to the disruption previously caused  by the pandemic, many people are hopeful of having a much better Christmas with their families and loved ones this year.

For some, Christmas will not be the same with so many painful losses and situations that may have changed their lives and expectations permanently. For others, the hope is that the usual Christmas tree, decorations, meal and gifts will be possible once more as families and friends gather to celebrate the day. However, sensible precautions are also being urged with the arrival of Omicron and each family or individual will need to make their own response to their particular circumstances, 

However, the difficulties arising with the supply chain mean that there has been concern that there may not be enough stocks of food, toys and gifts to meet the demand. As a result, Christmas shopping has started earlier than ever – although not everyone is disappointed to learn that, due to difficulties in finding seasonal workers, there may be a shortage of sprouts!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas says the song – but what does Christmas look like? The first Christmas was very different, with a child being born to parents away from home and shunned by family members because of the shame brought on them. Nowadays, Mary becoming pregnant before marriage would not be the issue it was then but Joseph was clearly concerned about Mary’s mental health too, with her talk of angels and messages from God. His dismay is understandable – but human help was needed to bring fresh hope to birth and Joseph also had to rethink his own priorities for this to happen. He changed his mind about Mary and, together, they made a positive difference. So, Jesus was born into human care in a place where animals were fed, quickly becoming a refugee when the family had to flee their homeland. That still happens today, with so many people displaced in the world, hungry, in need of help or with mental health issues. Perhaps, together, we too can make a positive difference to similar situations in our own families and 

communities or through charitable donations and support? 

The experiences we’ve all been through may be making us change our minds about Christmas and what is important to us. Now, as then, fresh hope can be born in difficult circumstances and Love can still find a home when human hearts are open to the challenge. That’s why the Christmas lights and decorations can be a sign of hope at the darkest time of year, despite the gloom and challenges that are ahead. There may be shortages of festive items this year – but, when you think of the love, hope and new beginning at the heart of the first Christmas and still around today, are they actually essential?

With my prayers; pob bendith,Christine, Guardian.