‘So did you have a good Christmas?’ ‘Yes, great thanks, all the family together, you know, it was good fun!’. How wonderful….!
The jollity spreads down the office corridors and around the kitchen tables, as the children play in the background. And for many of us, this will all be true. We did have a great Christmas! We really did love having the family to stay! It was marvellous to celebrate Christmas in the Valley, where we do Christmas so well every year!
But perhaps for some of us, it was not really all that marvellous at Christmas. Perhaps, Uncle Jerome did hit the booze too much and really upset the apple cart. Perhaps, the wonderful family feast that we were hoping that Christmas would be this year, did not turn out the way that we were expecting, and hoping it would be, when we started planning it in October or November. So disappointing! Perhaps, tensions, which were below the surface all year, came bubbling inconveniently to the surface. Perhaps, we had rows with our parents or our children. Perhaps, the holiday was a time when we reflected on where we are in life and found that things haven’t moved on one little bit since last Christmas, despite all our efforts. Perhaps we said things, which cannot be unsaid. Perhaps we massively overspent our Christmas budget and we are starting the year in debt, which will take months to sort out. Perhaps, the New Year is starting with regrets about the past or anxiety about the future.
The truth that we so often forget, in our family celebration, is what, or rather who, we were celebrating. And that truth won’t go away – that Jesus Christ Son of God, the Creator of the Universe, was born in Bethlehem some time two thousand years ago, was crucified and was raised from the dead. OK, so what, you may say? The whole point is that he died so that He could carry the pain of all our regrets about the past and all our anxieties about the future. And He will do so, if we will only just let Him….
I have often been struck by Psalm 18 ‘The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold…’. You know these words only really only mean anything when life is difficult. When out swimming on a still calm day, when everything is going our way, we don’t need a rock to cling to. It’s only when we are caught in a storm, when we cannot cope, when we fear that we are going to drown, in the misery of our regret or stress of our anxiety. Then we need a rock. And it had better be a solid one!
If you are feeling at all as I have described – if you have the New Year blues, turn to the One who can carry them for you. The rock we can cling to. He can take the strain, even when we cannot.
And if we let him, it really will be a Happy New Year.
Revd. Alex Pease
This article was first published in the January 2016 edition of Itchen Valley News