Christmas 2020 is going to be like no other Christmas which I can remember. Online services, restricted numbers in church, no congregational singing. It all feels rather odd as I am sure it does to you. And that’s just in church of course. Outside of church, we may or may not be meeting up with family and friends as part of a Christmas bubble, but whatever we are doing, it will be different this year.
And whilst we will no doubt miss the familiar routines, it does perhaps give us all the opportunity to reflect a little more on what Christmas is really all about, namely the coming of Jesus into our world. For Jesus came into a world that was different for the Jewish people of his day. Not only were they living under Roman occupation with the restrictions that imposed upon them (as is true for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza today), but they were living with the weight of expectation of a coming Messiah who had been promised for many years and not yet materialised. Little did they realise that the Messiah was going to come in the shape of a weak, helpless, little baby born in Bethlehem. This was certainly different to what they had been expecting. But then we have a God who delights in surprising us in unfamiliar ways.
So as we approach Christmas this year, with its difference and unfamiliarity, may I encourage us all to take a moment to stop, to pause, and to listen again for the words of the angel proclaiming, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people”. For if we do that, and let those familiar words resonate deeply with us once again, they can provide the inspiration and hope to take us forward into all the uncertainties of the coming year.
May God bless you and all those you love, and remember, this Christmas season.
Take care and stay safe.
With my best wishes and prayers
Jeremy Tear, Pioneer Team Rector