As we journey towards Christmas and the end of 2020 we may well be feeling many different things. Many of us will be glad to see the back of 2020. Many will be excited by the promise of 2021. Many will be worried that 2021 will just be 2020 version 2.0. Many will be holding to wonderful memories of 2020. Many will be longing to forget the hardships of this year.
This year I attended my nan’s funeral via a video link, 7 hours drive away from the funeral chapel – I hope I never have to attend a funeral by video link again. This year our family welcomed baby Joshua into the world, back at the height of the first lockdown – his birth was a sign of hope and life in the midst of the most difficult of years.
From the end of January 2021 I will be the new vicar of All Saints’ Madeley and St. Margaret’s Betley, so I should really be doing the proper vicar thing of saying that just as baby Joshua was a sign of hope for our family in dark times, the birth of baby Jesus some 2000 odd years ago was a sign of hope in dark times…. you get where this is going. But I’m not going to go there for two reasons:
1. Because baby Joshua isn’t the messiah, and he’s not even a very naughty boy (thank you Monty Python).
2. And also because this isn’t the time for twee and overly sentimental answers all wrapped up in swaddling cloth….
Actually, scrap that, because this is exactly the time for answers wrapped up in swaddling cloth and laid in a manger. The birth of Jesus 2000 years ago was a sign of hope and light in the midst of a dark time. His birth was and is a reminder that while it might feel like all is falling to pieces, God is still present. God promises to be with us, his people. As the beginning of John’s gospel reminds us, ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’
Now more than ever we need to be reminded that even in the midst of this darkness God is with us, God is present. Just as a small candle can light up the darkest night, so too can the knowledge of God’s saving love for us be a sign of hope in these dark days.
My family and I are really excited to be moving to Madeley in January and can’t wait to explore some of these ideas with you in the years to come. In the meantime, peace to you all, have a lovely Christmas and a hopeful beginning of 2021.
Rev Tim, Clare, Evie, Lucie and Joshua Watson.