I suspect I’m not the only one who has little members of the family asking for trampolining badgers, hedgehogs and dogs for Christmas! None of my grandchildren seem too interested in the trampoline itself – they just want the energetic animals! And that’s a little bit of a problem, isn’t it? Because no matter how big their parents’ budget, if that’s what the children really want then they are going to be very disappointed come Christmas morning.
But of course they won’t be the only ones.
This year many people in the UK will already know that they are going to be disappointed on Christmas Day. In some homes loved ones will be missing. In some homes there will be little, if any, spare money for celebrations, feasts or presents. In some homes a tangible fear for the future will be hanging around like Marley’s Ghost and will suck any jollity or joy from the air.
Others, perhaps even most people, will do their best to celebrate with the family and friends that are present, and put the struggles and mistakes of the past year and the concerns for the next to one side for a while and simply enjoy the moment. I do hope that, whatever your circumstances, you’re able to do that.
But, however good our celebrations, Christmas can leave us more empty than fulfilled. The food has been eaten (much of it ending up on our waistlines), and there are bills to pay, problems to be faced and the nights are still so dark.
But into this darkness comes Jesus – God’s marvellous light. And wonderfully his magnificent light is able to transform any darkness and bring real joy, deep peace and lasting hope which go far, far beyond the end of Christmas.
The shepherds knew that joy as they returned to their flocks. The wise men knew it too, even though their journey was long and complicated. And I’m sure that Mary, as she cradled the Christchild in her arms and saw a glimpse of all her son would do, smiled to herself as she pondered the wonder and beauty of God’s greatest Christmas gift.
However you celebrate, surely it’s worth making time to see whether the story at the heart of Christmas is both true and relevant for today. I’m convinced it is and that the child in the manger is still able to bring hope and joy and peace to all who seek him. Why not come and see for yourself?
So Happy Christmas! Celebrate well!
And may Jesus bring you and your family true joy and lasting peace this year.