Heading towards Christmas – the gift of hope

Dear Friends,
As Christmas rapidly approaches, I’ve found myself humming all my favourite Christmas songs and carols. One that has come to mind is a song our singing group shared last year called ‘Hope was born this night’. This verse stands out:

I can hear the Christmas bells ring
As softly a church choir sings
It’s the song used to praise the ancient of days
When hope was born this night

I am a naturally optimistic person, I enjoy looking for the good in every situation and have a tendency to throw caution to the wind in favour of a ‘let’s give it a go, I’m sure it’ll be ok’ attitude. Sometimes however, even for someone with this kind of personality trait, the darkness of this world can feel overwhelming. In my role as minister, I have the privilege of sharing in many people’s lives, which inevitably involves the dark moments, as well as the joyful ones. I am often moved to tears by the suffering I see and feel that, were it not for the knowledge that we have a God who weeps alongside us and who will one day bring a new heaven and a new earth, it would be easy to sink into despair.

Christmas is a very welcome annual reminder that hope really was born all those years ago when God came to earth to live among us. In our celebrations and services, we declare that that very same hope remains real in our world and in our lives today. Over the last few months we’ve given a lot of attention to what it means to be the church and why it’s important to come together. During Advent and Christmas, the things we do when we come together are extremely important. Collectively, as the church, we remind ourselves and the world around us, that hope is real, that light really does shine in the darkness and that it can never be extinguished. As we listen to our singing groups sing songs of Christmas, as we collectively join in carols, as we share the nativity story (and it’s looking very exciting this year!) and as we share mince pies, we are doing more than just repeating traditions, we are telling the story of hope. As a church we will be joining with the chorus of the ages that has declared the birth of the Messiah for over 2000 years. What a privilege and what a comfort.

There are many opportunities to come together and declare these truths in the coming days. As well as Sunday services, we have a traditional carol service (Sunday 12th Dec, 4pm), a lively Christmas Praise service (Wednesday 14th Dec, 8pm) and of course our popular Crib Service with Ned the donkey (Christmas Eve, 3pm) and our Christmas Family Service (Sunday 25th Dec 10am). Please make coming together a priority, and why not invite your friends and family to come too? Christmas is a wonderful time to extend an invitation to those who might not normally come to church – and what better gift to offer than the gift of hope.