I wonder if you’re one of those people who already have their Christmas cards written, presents bought, perhaps even wrapped, turkey ordered and so on. Heather Richardson, our former verger and caretaker who now lives in Australia, is one of those people. Whenever she happened to drop into conversations in October or early November that she’d finished wrapping presents I wasn’t quite sure if it was right that my reaction was probably more irritation than awe!
I am not one of those people. Our turkey tends to be ordered on the last possible day and presents are hurriedly bought on Christmas Eve (sometimes with the benefit of being already in the sales – there are some pluses to being disorganised!)
Whichever end of the preparation scale you’re nearest, the fact is that Christmas is coming. For many of us it’s a highpoint of the year, a glorious celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Friend, which gives us an excuse to eat and drink too much and spend time with family and friends.
In all of the gathering excitement, however, there are many for whom the loneliness or illness they face each day is simply heightened by the festivities around them. Just as I’m writing this, the postman has delivered a message from New Hope reminding us of the alarmingly high numbers of people sleeping on Watford’s streets. How easy it is for us to get so caught up in our own Christmas celebrations and put these people to the back of our minds.
As Christmas approaches we want to make a conscious point of praying for those people in our communities, families and workplaces for whom it is a time of difficulty and sadness.
In the corner of the hall in the Junction we have a tree of lights that shines out from the church into the community around us – our Christmas Prayer Tree. Under the tree is a basket with tags and pens in it and we are inviting everyone, young and old, to write the name or initials of someone you know on a tag and hang it on the tree.
Please can I encourage you to take the time to identify people you know who need prayer and add a tag for them to the tree. And what about asking them to one of our Christmas services? Or offering to include them in your festivities in some way?
The prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 61 v1) proclaims:
“The spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has chosen me.
He has commissioned me to encourage the poor, to help the brokenhearted …”
but this is not just an Old Testament prophet talking about himself or prophesying the coming of the Messiah. It’s a commission we all have, as followers of Jesus. And what better time to show God’s love than when we remember his precious gift to all mankind, as we enter the season of Advent today.
With love – Debbie