Christmas Snakes and Ladders
calendar_todayThu 26th November - 10:02pm
Usually I start planning for Christmas, or at least thinking about it in January! It drops off the radar for a few months to make space for Lent and Easter, then over the summer the thoughts start to percolate again, before September comes and hopefully there is a solid plan that involves something of what we have done in previous years, and some fresh creativity too.
As we move through the autumn some of the wildly creative ideas make way for some recycled ideas, in the hope that with a few mince pies and sherries the congregation might not quite remember the profound and meaningful moments included in previous years’ services!
This year, however, has been completely different. Planning ahead for Christmas this year has felt more like a game of Snakes and Ladders where one roll of the dice can send you sliding back down a completely different path and you have to start all over again!
So, we have made some plans for holding services and events both in Church and online, and we are excited about what we’re hoping to offer to help our communities in Birchwood and Woolston celebrate Christmas this year. But we also know that at any moment there may be a change in what is allowed, or a rise in local cases that could throw all the plans up in the air again.
All this uncertainty has given me a new perspective on the Christmas story itself, because the more I reflect on it this in this year of disruption, the more I realise how disrupting the events of the first Christmas were for those involved.
Mary and Joseph were engaged to be married, they no doubt had their plans for what their lives would look like, until the angel Gabriel turned up and sent all their plans out the window. Then, just as they were getting used to the idea that they would have a baby, the emperor ordered a census so they had to set off away from home on the long journey to Bethlehem. Not what they had planned at all.
Or what about the shepherds, sat happily in their fields just doing their job until the angels appeared and sent them running into the village to find the newborn Jesus. And then there were the wise men, sent on a perilous journey to a far-off land because of the appearance of a new star in the sky. None of these people could have predicted or planned what would happen to them, but when the disruption came they went with it and in doing so they met God face to face.
We all approach Christmas with our own sets of expectations and hopes, rituals and traditions, and after all we’ve been through this year it may feel heart breaking that we won’t be able to celebrate in the ways that we usually do. But perhaps this Christmas, this strange and disrupted Christmas, gives us an opportunity to learn anew from Mary and Joseph, the wise men and the shepherds, and to allow the strange turn our lives have taken to lead us closer to the God who is always with us.