Are you looking forward to Christmas?

This is a question that is always guaranteed to get a mixed response. ‘Yes’, you might say, ‘but I’m not nearly ready…’, or ‘I’ve not really thought about it yet – but I will be when it comes’, or you might be really positive and say ‘Yes, Christmas is my favourite time of year – I can’t wait!’

Whatever your response, the season of Advent is a time of looking forward, a time of hopeful anticipation as we wait expectantly for Christmas and the celebration of Christ’s birth.

The things we look forward to are, I guess, many-fold. For children, it might be the presents or the parties, for us grown-ups the chance to meet up with old friends, or for welcoming family members to stay. It might be the singing of our favourite carols, or the decorating of the tree or just that opportunity to break from the routine for a few days and have a rest – if that is something you can do. There is something magical about Christmas that can warm people’s hearts – the spirit of Christmas we call it, and I’m not just talking about the brandy!

But I would like to think that looking forward to Christmas can also have a deeper meaning too. It’s the sense of looking forward that we encounter as, throughout Advent, we are reminded again of the ways in which birth of Jesus was looked forward to, hoped for and promised by prophets long ago. They ‘looked forward’ to a time when God’s promise of the Messiah would be fulfilled and people would be set free from oppression; when peace would prevail and light would shine into the darkness of their world. Into this darkness and in the fullness of time, Jesus came – the child of Bethlehem.

Today, as we look forward to Christmas and to welcoming the same Messiah’s birth we too are longing for that light to shine, longing for the peace of Christ to fill our hearts and the hearts of others, longing for justice to reign and for the peoples of this world to be set free from the many forms of oppression that they encounter daily. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, we pray.

So, am I looking forward to Christmas? Yes, most definitely. Christmas can’t come soon enough especially if it means the transformation of our world and the out working of God’s Kingdom. Now that really would be something to celebrate!

May I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful and God-filled New Year.