Away in a manger no crib for a bed
As I sit with my thoughts turning to Christmas, and with the pandemic clamour reaching into every aspect of our lives and our media is questioning if there is going to be a Christmas, and more lockdown isolation.
We find similarities in the Christmas Nativity, as Mary and Joseph were isolated away from friends and family, in the stable as there was no room in the inn because everyone was obeying the census laws, and despite all this, it is a story of waiting, hope and love, which still matters today as it is also the promise of salvation from all our troubles.
I think this year above all years we are all really challenged to be imaginative, which has been a regular theme during Harvest. As we now approach Advent and Christmas, I feel it will be a time of mixed emotions as people struggle to let go of the commercialised Christmas and some of their normal church traditions. Adding to this it will also be a time of great sadness in one parish - their church is closing and their last service is at Christmas, and likewise for many families it will equally be a time of sadness if we are unable to come together because of the rule of 6.
Whilst Christmas without carols will certainly feel a little odd, we are exploring how we could use professional singers in some of our churches and do a bring-your-own Christingle, as we imaginatively make the best of the situation we are in.
Perhaps through all of this going on in our lives there is more parity in the Nativity story this year, as the Holy family is alone and in the stable, and isolated from their family, because Mary would have been classed as ritually unclean, isolated from their normal home and the familiar day-to-day life as they obey the new census law in a strange place. Is this not also what the pandemic has ushered in for many, isolation from the familiar, from touch, from family, as we obey new laws and the virus threat makes the other person potentially an unclean virus carrier, and we now find ourselves ritually washing our hands.
For the Holy family it required imaginative creativity to make this isolated stable a safe place to bring a child into the world without all the usual traditions that would have accompanied a birth, and through this we discover the incarnation, and welcome and invitation to the Prince of Peace.
Perhaps through our collective creative imagination as we celebrate Advent and Christmas this year, we too will inhabit a new place that for our communities and our families will give new hope as we discover the incarnation afresh for ourselves.
Above all I wish you all a safe and happy Advent and Christmas full of our Lords blessings.
With love and prayers during this blessed time,
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