A Time of Hope and Joy

This morning I was in total Bah Humbug mood. I am full of cold and could really do with some time to take myself away from everybody and everything and just rest it off. But that’s not how these things work Christmas is a time to be social, that’s after I’ve gotten all through the more important things I need to get done this week. Don’t get me wrong I’m not against the idea of being sociable I am really looking forward to spending a few days with Third Party, and having some quality time with Karl and seeing other relatives and friends…..it’s just I’m not really in the mood right now. I’m in that place when I could quite happily have one of my “I don’t do Christmas” unsociable Yuletides.

This then was the place I was in when I sat down to write my sermon for Sunday afternoon, a sermon I’d been wrestling with and getting more stuck with for the last few days. I was praying for inspiration but it was from a definite bah humbug place.

There was a ray of hope in terms of breaking through the barrier and that was Canon David Winter’s thought for the month in the Door, the Oxford Diocese newspaper, which I’d happened to have picked up on Sunday. It focused around Luke 1:44 which was rather handy because the passage I was dealing with was that verse and those around it. Winter focused on these two women and their experience. It gave me a starting point.

And so I ploughed on from talking about how they met and how they expressed themselves after being filled by the Spirit and by the end I had got to talking about the way Christmas is still a time for hope and joy.

As I reflected on what I’d written I felt a bit like I’d been slapped round the face with a wet kipper. I do cynical quite easily especially at Christmas but hope and joy..well that’s a different matter.

Now I have to be honest, and if you’ve read a few of the blog entries I’ve written with a more religious theme this month you’ll probably be aware, hope has been an ongoing thing with me this Advent. It keeps jumping up and grabbing me by the throat…cynicism can’t win, hope has to shine through.

As I say today joy came and joined the party…Christmas is a time for hope and joy that comes not out of some easy fantasy but out of the reality of faith within complicated lived experience. It’s not I have discovered, as I have had God speak to me through my sermon as I wrote it, something which is simply saying “don’t let the bastards get you down” but it is deeper and richer than that. (And don’t worry, that’s not within my sermon, it’s just my reflection now). It’s something which comes from knowing the reality of Christ within the wider story of history holding on to what is to come as well as what has been and indeed what currently is.

So this Christmas I wish you tidings of hope and of joy whatever the reality of the Christmas you are facing this year.