On behalf of my family, I want to take this opportunity to wish you and your family the most happiest of Christmases and all of God’s best for you in 2010. And in saying that, there is a part of me that feels sort of funny saying right now. I write this note to you in advance of the actual days and events that will take place this Christmastide. You remember Christmas? Surely you remember the Christmas tree with twinkling lights and brightly wrapped gifts underneath. Certainly you can recall the squeals of joy and early morning excitement with a new found treasure, the decorations and smell of the meal as it is prepared in the kitchen? Possibly you might think back to when family and friends were popping in, some expected and some a surprise; the mummering?. When I look back at Christmas memories captured on film, I think back on the years that my wife and I have shared as a married couple with our two sons. And as I sit back and watch I cannot help but think of those moments which seem so long ago now in my own childhood. And then that is precisely the moment when I stop and give thanks to God that Christmas something more than a mere memory. It is an opportunity to be ready for when he comes again. The need to be ready for Christmas makes me even more aware of the need for a season like Advent: a time to prepare for Christ’s coming amongst us, not only as the Babe of Bethlehem but also as the King of kings and Lord of Lords. Advent should be a time when we focus on the fact that Jesus did come some 2000 years ago to a dim, starry lit stable. And the memory of that event should remind us that we need to be prepared for his next coming – his return to us.
We should celebrate with everything that is in us the feast of the Incarnation, of the coming of the Christ among us which leads to our redemption and salvation. The gift of Christ to us, of his presence amongst us, is only the beginning of all the grace, the mercy and all of the good things that God desires to pour out upon his people. This is the moment that we should renew and revitalize our commitment to bring this same gift to the rest of the world. We are encouraged to open his gifts and to explore them fully. I pray that we will do exactly that this Christmas: that we will open ourselves up to Christ’s presence in our lives and explore all the great things that our heavenly Father has for us to do and to be in the New Year. Have a very merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.