As Christmas approaches, no doubt your plans and preparations will be underway. You have probably already decided where you are going to go for your Christmas dinner, or how many people you are hosting this year. You may be very organised and have already bought your Christmas presents, or perhaps you are not that kind of person and you are hoping it doesn’t become a dash around the shops on Christmas Eve like last year!
Christmas means many different things to many different people. To some, it is all about getting together with the family. For others, it is all about making sure the children or the grand children have a great time. Or maybe you think it is all about eating the biggest and most extravagant meal of the year! My abiding memory of Christmas as a child was our annual family road trip down south to stay with my grandparents and spending a lot of our time visiting various members of the family.
I anticipate that Christmas 2016 will be one that I will never forget. Not just because it is my first Christmas with Kirkleatham Parish, but also because it will be my first Christmas as a parent. Inevitably, Christmas takes on a very different meaning after you have a child. But more than that – as I think back to the first few weeks of our life with Zach, I cannot help but wonder what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph. It was certainly a less than ideal situation for Mary to have to travel many miles whilst heavily pregnant, and the idea of giving birth somewhere unfamiliar and about as ill equipped for giving birth as you can imagine must have been terrifying. When you compare these circumstances to Zach’s birth in a modern NHS hospital surrounded by all the things that we were advised to bring with us, it highlights just how fortunate we are in our modern world and how much of a challenge it must have been.
Christmas is a special time of the year and in our parish we will be having various services and activities to celebrate it and I hope you will be able to join us. Whatever way you choose to enjoy this season, may we never forget that we can enjoy the festivities because of the struggles that Mary and Joseph went through and that, through that difficulty, God worked a miracle and the world was changed forever through the birth of Jesus:
“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9.6)