Well, this time has come round again in what feels like only a couple of weeks since last Christmas! We've already got our tree up – our usual Advent practice because we've about 15 different calenders we use as well – so best get it all blinged up in one go!
Counting down the days of Advent until Christmas is one of the true beauties of this time (I use a couple of obligatory Christmas CDs and copious amounts of seasonal beverage), because it proves we need seasons in order to delineate between that which approaches and that which has passed: that we recognise old times when they leave and herald the new ones in.
The past two years have been an extraordinary case of time melting into itself, with 2020 being one long memory of nervousness and restriction, and this year being a tentative emergence into a new world.
No better analogy, perhaps, for the time in which Christmas was first born: civilisation coming to a head, needing something to release it from its burden, and the breaking open into a new life. Even then, the knowledge that we still have far to go before we can land safely in the safest of places, and finally enjoy the true freedom and peace only God can bring.
Until that time comes, absolutely and for everyone, we know there is much we still have to do, but under that new banner of hope and love. Too much has been lost in recent times for us to give up those crucial tenets of Christianity which, along with faith, form the bedrock of what is the foundation of us as Church.
The faith that beyond our sight there approaches the eternal truth that all will be well. The hope that this world will look past conflict and hurt and instead approach life valuing it and lifting it to heaven. And finally the love which binds us all together and speaks through the years the reminder that it has never let us go.
As Christmas 2021 arrives, may we rest in the knowledge that each of us is given the highest honour of being one of God's own children; brothers and sisters to the baby born in a manger, and dedicated to releasing ourselves and others from whatever threatens that freedom.
So, as 2022 arrives, may you feel the joy and blessing only God can bring. Your life be blessed and lifted to God's kingdom. And may the New Year embed in you the faith, hope and love which abide at this time.