Just when we thought we might have seen, if not the end, at least the worst of the pandemic, we have Omicron, and it seems we take a step backwards and are left wondering, “What next?”. We take our boosters, rightly so, but we know that others have not yet had one and the reality that we are not protected until we are all protected is a warning against complacency and nationalism in the face of a virus that does not discriminate and knows nothing of nation states.
It’s not just this of course that is a mess. Our political life is also in some turmoil, with, whatever your personal political opinions, questions of integrity and honesty undermining trust.
We will know too of families and individuals struggling with employment, with making ends meet, with rising energy prices beaten down by a media-inspired presentation of a perfect and unobtainable Christmas.
What a mess!
This is why it matters that we celebrate, in church, with our families and our friends. This is why it matters that we celebrate, not by seeking to imitate some tinsel-coated, media-portrayed representation of Christmas, but the reality of Christmas, the reality of a baby born in the mess of a borrowed stable, in a backwater of an occupied land. We may have to be restrained in how we celebrate this year, but remember the first Christmas began in highly inauspicious circumstances, in a mess different but the same as the mess that surrounds us today.
Its message resonates down the centuries, telling of God who in Jesus comes to be born, to be made present, in the reality of our daily life. He comes that we might have hope, have the confidence to look up, to look out, to look to the future, knowing we are not alone but that God is with us. God transcends our borders and our differences, with the message of love made visible for all.
This is what our Advent preparations are all about, be that the lights on the doors of our homes, the carol services for which we are preparing, the hospitality we will offer… In these ways, we proclaim that the darkness will not overcome the light.
What a mess. Yes indeed, precisely the mess in which Jesus is born to give us hope in the knowledge that God walks with us. A mess worth getting ready for! May these last days of Advent preparation be blessed and may the light of Christ shine bright.