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May I wish you a very Happy Christmas?
Are you thinking that I’m a little behind the times? This is the January magazine (even though I’m writing it at the beginning of December!) and Christmas is past. It’s over and done with for another year. Perhaps your decorations are already carefully packed away, the new diet is planned and thoughts are beginning to turn to the next event, or even to summer holidays.
It is interesting that our twenty-first century Western society has so completely bought in to a timetable of anticipation. We begin to think about Christmas at the beginning of November, as soon as the Hallowe’en decorations are removed from the shops. That’s if we haven’t already started buying for Christmas in September. And then, on the 26th December, Christmas is over. The Sales begin and the shops fill with Valentine’s Day merchandise, Mothers’ Day cards and, very soon, with Easter Eggs. In fact, sometimes we’re so far ahead of ourselves that it’s really difficult to buy a swimsuit or a short-sleeved t-shirt in July because the autumn catalogue is now occupying the space.
The Christian timetable is very different. Easter begins on Easter Day and continues for a full seven weeks until Pentecost. Christmas begins on Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve if you’re up late!, and continues until Epiphany takes over on 6th January. So we are still in the Christmas season and are able to enjoy it without the pressure of a coming event, to savour it, to take time to appreciate what it is really about. It means that we can be fully present to the here and now, without rushing on to the next thing in a headlong flight to – what? It’s not clear.
As we enter this new year, we can be sure that God goes with us whatever our future brings. In fact, we can be sure that he is already in our future, as he has been in our past, and as he most supremely is in our present. At Christmas God came to be with us. Let us take time to be with him, and to enjoy our present moment, with all that it brings.
Happy Christmas! Happy New Year!