I have lots of wishes for the Christmas season and for 2019, but one in particular for all of my online friends and anyone else who really wants 2019 to be better than 2018 in some specific way.
Firstly, when we contemplate the real origin of Christmas it’s easier to feel at peace with others and with our circumstances, and with ourselves. Any of those might change (us, others, circumstances); some of those might change under our influence and efforts; or something serendipitous might happen. At this season it seems appropriate to renew hope.
Having said “real origin” I need to point out that as well as Peace, Goodwill, Joy and other implied effects of Christmas (responding to God’s gift of His Son as a go-between to give us the chance for a relationship with God) we need to recognize that the so-called religious season is scarcely recognizable. It suited the Emperor Constantine (a new Christian convert) to establish Christian practices but also to inject pre-existing pagan practices to popularize the festival relating to the Nativity of Jesus Christ.
Then more recently so many other aspects have been injected just for the commercial potential and “warm fuzzy” promise. Stars atop decorated trees, houses decked with coloured lights, intriguing parcels tied with bows… enjoy these, but look past them.
At a recent gathering someone spoke of “putting Christ back into Christmas” and another responded “Well he was never really there in the first place, was he?” Well, not for long!
I’ve just been reading the Biblical book of Joel about a people who were suffering the effects of a drastic calamity that removed their plant life and their joy. After a plague of locusts they were pointed to how to search their hearts and return to God and then — what gave me my big WISH for this Christmas and New Year — God would “restore the years the locust has eaten”.
So for any person who’s suffered in 2018 from health, financial or emotional lack, family disruption, injustice, squashed hopes, lack of employment… (this list could go on and on)… I would pray with you that you’ll follow the path to God and that he’ll restore to you what has been lost, or replace it with something better than you’d have been able to imagine!
Look past the baubles and the shop queues, the chocolate and the red suits, and see the promise of the season… and set your hopes for 2019.