December, for many people, is a month of anticipation and excitement. Decorations have been gradually appearing in all sorts of places and in people’s homes, Christmas gifts have been in the shops for some time already, plans that have been made for festivities, lunches, fairs and special events are swinging into action, and the weeks before Christmas can be both busy and exciting as we wait for the arrival of Christmas Day.
December, for many people, can also be a month of aggravation and dread. There are lists to be prepared, cards to write, arrangements to be made, presents to find and seemingly so many more things to squeeze into the cold, dark, wet or icy days than we seem to have to manage in the warm and sunny summer months. Christmas can also be a time when feelings of loneliness are brought to the fore, when the absence of those we have loved and lost can be deeply felt and when those who are homeless, short of money or struggling with difficult personal circumstances can feel anything but happy and bright.
For Christians, some words from the prophet Isaiah give us a sense of the anticipation with which God’s people were waiting for their saviour: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and … he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace … He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever. (Isaiah 9:6-7, NIVUK). The birth of Jesus didn’t put an end to the suffering and struggles of God’s people, yet the Christmas carols that we sing and the Bible readings that we hear during the Advent and Christmas seasons remind us that the birth of Jesus has been felt to be Good News for people throughout the centuries ever since he was born.
Whatever you are doing this month and however calm or stressed you may feel, may this month be one in which you sense God’s presence in your life, and may you feel the inner strength, hope and peace that faith in Jesus and the assurance of God’s love can bring.