Friday, 31 December 2021

At the Turning of the Year

I've often wondered how different it must feel to celebrate Christmas in a place where December 25th falls in the middle of a beautiful summer.  Barbecues on the beach for Christmas? Instead of chestnuts roasting on an open fire?  (Does anyone do that these days?)  In the grey, dull days of winter a sunshine festive season can feel very tempting.  And yet. ...


And yet maybe there's something strangely appropriate about celebrating the birth of Jesus in the midst of deep and dismal days.  

For that's why He came: 

to bring Light to the world, to lift our spirits from all that feels hard and difficult.  He came to bring hope, and healing and new life.  

Our Christmas celebrations in the UK coincide with the winter solstice, the tilt of the earth's axis which gives us the longest night of the year.  As the earth continues on its orbit and this moment passes, the darkest days of winter are quite literally behind us.  Brighter days are coming.  What a beautiful metaphor for the birth of the baby at Bethlehem. 

However hard circumstances have been and continue to be for you  ...  

Happy New Year!  


Thursday, 16 December 2021

Christmas: A Time To Be Tender

We're here again: at that time of year when suddenly Christmas seems to be racing towards us, however ready or ill prepared we feel to welcome it.  It will come.  It will come soon.  It always does. The date in the calendar is utterly dependable. And, in a year when there has been much to celebrate and much to mourn, it will usher in a time of mixed emotions.

I'm writing another book at the moment, about finding emotional healing with Jesus.  (I'll share more about this in the New Year). Inevitably, it's colouring my thinking as I 'people-watch' throughout this season. I can't help wondering what we don't see as we meet and interact with others in the run up to Christmas.  What might lie behind the smiles and laughter?  How many struggles birth themselves in tears behind closed doors?

Christmas is a time like no other, when our mind catapults itself into memories of other Christmas celebrations (or disasters) and before we know it we are back in the feelings that characterised those times.  Unknown to us, they have been quietly storing themselves away in the cells of our bodies, hiding away for just this moment.  Powerful and pivotal experiences always do that.  They become part of us.  And where there have been significant losses in our lives the Christmas season is all the more poignant.

For me it's the first rendition of the familiar festive tunes that awakens the memories of other Christmas seasons, both good and bad.  Beneath the tinsel and the glitter and the happy romanticised vibes of the seasonal soundtrack there often lies deep personal pain and longing.  And whilst we may be skilled at hiding that from others (we are, after all, now experienced mask-wearers) there is wisdom in acknowledging it.  We need to carve out space to give our tender feelings permission to 'be' and to cradle them with love.  Our lives, and our Christmas experience will be the better for having done so.

So, above all else, be kind to yourself in this season, whatever that means for you.  Breathe. Reflect. Take slow moments with the Jesus whose birth this season is all about.  Rest in His love and let Him anoint your feelings with healing, hope and peace.  Walk through the season with Him. And, regardless of the perfect images zooming into your life through your screens, celebrate the season in the way that's most helpful to you.

I wish you joy and happiness this Christmas.

And I pray blessings and peace on any pain or fears 

you are quietly and bravely carrying.  

Be kind to yourself.  

And be kind to others.

Click here for a poem that you might like to make your own: 

Headlong to Christmas