As I write this letter in mid-November the national sense of uncertainty is palpable. We are on the cusp of an extremely rare Advent election. After years of debate, division and acute political uncertainty the outcome remains unknown and our direction as a nation unpredictable.
Uncertainty unearths a number of natural human emotions: among them anxiety, fear, sadness. Many of us feel disorientated. The inconclusiveness of our present situation also prolongs the ways in which we can be at loggerheads with one another. This extended ambiguity can be especially painful when we disagree with those we love, respect, or count upon as friends. However deeply we may hold our convictions we would much prefer that this was not the case.
The unpredictability of our future is part of the human experience. Our tomorrows to some extent are always a mystery no matter how much we may seek to plan.
The Christmas story is filled with anxiety, fear and disorientation particularly for Joseph and Mary. Their unwanted census compelled them to make a deeply bewildering journey. One stopping point brought a homeless stable birth, the next was a fearful flight to Egypt, before they could finally settle in Nazareth. The Magi too had a hard time of it as they made their winter journey. T S Eliot conjectures that they travelled with voices singing in their ears that it all might be folly. What we do know is that they had to discern the intentions and motivations of the despotic King Herod which led them to head home by a completely different route.
However, in the midst of this anxiety and disorientation, there shines through the message of good news and hope: that God is present and his promises are constant. The Christmas narrative is as redolent and relevant today as it has been for two millennia. I pray that this Christmas you may share in the same hope and joy of the Christ-child, for his coming was the very incarnation of God’s light amidst every winter’s darkness.
I pray that we may all have a truly happy Christmas and real hope and joy in the New Year.
Your friend and parish priest