It has been a busy year and has seen more roller coasters for my friends and family. My beloved sister Kate has made her journey through cancer treatment for the second time, bearing all very bravely as always. Her indomitable spirit and deep faith have been such inspiration to everyone, shining as such a beacon in the darkness. She is now supporting her husband Phil as he awaits some medical interventions and I know he will be able to draw on her strength as she has on his.
My daughters continue to amaze and amuse me as well as always being there when I need support. Laura spent a week in “The Jungle” refugee camp at Calais just a week before it closed. I believe it had a massive impact on her and she is actively doing more to help and support refugee causes. Rebecca’s continued dedication to supporting Amy’s boys Jago and Madok is heartwarming to witness, and her culinary and organisational skills make such a difference here at home.
My grandchildren are all growing up so quickly. Angel did well in her GCSE’s and is working hard in the sixth form. Finlay excels at his drumming and is always ready to help others. Phoebe draws, dances and sings her way through life and never fails to amaze me with her in depth questions and conversations, a very wise head on very young shoulders.
I have achieved one of my own ambitions this year by completing my two years at college to graduate with my Diploma in Counselling. A glutton for punishment I have embarked on a third year to gain a BA and am working hard to achieve that too.
That is us, but I have been moved deeply by events across the world and remain acutely aware of the suffering and hardship experienced as a result of war, terrorism and poverty, man’s inhumanity to man sinking to greater depths than ever. The world has never needed a light in its darkness more than it does right now. People who have lost their way are looking in the wrong place for the light.
This is what Christmas is all about.
We had a wonderful new addition to our family when we welcomed Charlotte Amy Shaw into the world in November. She is a poppet, still trying to work out the difference between day and night but loved by all of us.
As I watch her parents, new at this experience, I marvel at how God entrusted the salvation of mankind to a teenage mother in order that we could know how much He loved us, that we might see His likeness and know Him as He identified with all our humanity.
This is what Christmas is all about.
Angels, shepherds, wise men, stable, innkeeper, all the cast of His story so familiar and the reason for the season – we can gaze at the baby in the manger but find it harder to accept the man He grew to be. There is only one reason for Christmas and that is Jesus, who came to give us the gift of salvation, freedom from guilt, and life changing grace and love.
The words of John’s gospel say this
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
I know so many friends and others who are dealing with difficult life changing and life threatening situations, where health and well-being are compromised and who need support. As we approach the celebrations of the next two days let us remember those for whom there is no stable fixed abode, for whom there is no freedom from poverty, for whom life is shortened by ill health, for those living on the edges of society, outcast and marginalised. These are the ones for whom Jesus came, took on human flesh and lived amongst us. These are the ones He calls us to be with, to be His hands and feet, His heart of love and compassion.
That is what Christmas is all about.
I wish all of you a happy Christmas, a blessed time of love and sharing, that is what Christmas is all about.