The world’s a fragile place at the moment. And we’ve been here before: winter months, new variant of the virus unleashed, Christmas celebrations threatened, scramble to vaccinate. The pandemic’s taking on a seasonal character.
Seasons shape our lives in many ways. Winter affects mental health and makes travel more dangerous. When we think about Christmas, we imagine a cold, wintery wonderland with Christmas bringing light and warmth into this cold and dark season. That’s a comfort to us!
But Christmas calls us to ask: what does the birth of Christ mean for a dark world – not just a dark season in time? If Christmas is about hope breaking into a hopeless world, why are we so quick to speak of Christmas being ‘cancelled’ under the threat of things such as a new variant?
Nothing can cancel Christmas, even if circumstances mean that our celebrations are imperfect. Jesus’s birth, after all, was messy – an unexpected pregnancy, a young family on the move, a makeshift birthplace. What matters is that our Christmas celebrations this year – and I pray they’ll be easier than the last – tell us of the constant, unchanging reality that God is with us in every situation.
Through the coming of his own child into the world, God shines a light of love and hope into all the dark parts of the world, wherever and whenever they might exist. That’s the real gift of Christmas, with no conditions attached. And the way to accept it is to open the heart to the gift of God’s light, hope and love. Happy Christmas!