‘Tis the season?
We are well into the season of carol concerts, nativity plays and Christmas parties! Nothing warms the heart like a chorister singing the first verse of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ by candlelight or a five-year-old performing in their first nativity play complete with dressing gown and tea towel on their head! Nothing causes more embarrassment than inappropriate drunken shenanigans (great word that!) at the works Christmas party. Excitement is building as people plan presents and Christmas trips to see family and friends.
For others the reality of Christmas is very different. For many members of the LGBTQ+ community this time of year can be very challenging as difficult family relationships are pushed to the limit or estranged family members are missed. Christmas can heighten feelings of loneliness and isolation or remind us sharply and painfully of the fact that someone they love deeply is no longer here to share this season with them. For others it highlights the struggles they have finding enough money to feed their family or themselves let along decorate the house or buy presents. In some parts of the world Christmas will be just another time of avoiding the conflict and war raging around them.
For me the importance of Christmas, the reason I can call myself a Christian at all, is because in the person of Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate at this time of year, God knows what it is like to be me. To be a human with all its ups and down. In Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us: God knows what it is to spend time and celebrate with family, but God also knows what it is like to be alone and scared. In Jesus God knows what it is to experience love and friendship but also what it is like to be betrayed and suffer loss. In Jesus Christ God knows what it is like to have purpose but also what it is like to feel despair and pain.
The birth of the baby Jesus is a wonderful, sacred and special moment in time.
It happened to a very human family, with all the usual pain and trauma of a human birth.
It happened in a stable, surrounded by dirt and livestock.
It would have involved both joy and fear, much like our own lives.
I can worship God because at Christmas God became human in Jesus Christ and knows what it is like to be me, a gay man with all the joys and struggles that brings.
This is the most precious gift we will ever receive, and I pray that we will all receive it in a fresh way this year.
Every prayer and much love from all of us on the Board of Trustees for your Christmas, however it is spent.
The Reverend Canon Peter Leonard
Chair of Trustees