For many people, this Christmas will not be as lavish as in previous years.The increased price of food and fuel will make it difficult to celebrate in the way they would wish to – perhaps the number of presents they give will be reduced, the decorations that usually adorn the outside of their home may not go up this year and the 'traditional turkey' may not be a turkey this time! For some families this happened years ago, for some, this year could be the first time...and it will hurt.
For families facing this Christmas with trepidation, I think there will be a real disconnect with the general mood of celebration and their 'season to be jolly' could well be overshadowed by despair; but Christmas reminds us of something critical to keep in our minds,"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it" (John 1:5).
My friends, there are many more reasons to be grateful and filled with hope because of our faith. God has and will continue to help us to see all of this through. Therefore, I want to remind you that we are called to be a Christmas people, and that Jesus is incarnated in every act of love and kindness we extend to one another. God can reach us beyond all the barriers the world can create and revive us by giving us strength in times of great distress. So, we can do this, and we will overcome because we are the Church, the body of the risen Christ!
We can all do something to make this Christmas a little less bleak for someone else. Many of our Churches have redoubled their efforts to support a local Foodbank, many have supported one of the many Shoebox Appeals available and others have joyously supported SCRATCH (Southampton City and Region Action To Combat Hardship) with generous donations of children's toys and games. You may have donated to charities such as Centrepoint or Crisis at Christmas who have special appeals at this time of year and I am aware that several of our Churches have committed themselves to offering a Warm Space to their community at this time. Through such generosity a 'little light' will indeed shine in the darkness of other people's gloom. I commend and thank you for this.
My dear sisters and brothers in Christ, I pray that you may be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the magi, and the peace of the Christ child.
Happy Christmas and a blessed New Year to you all!
Rev. John Hughes