So sang Andy Williams, originally way back in 1963; although others such as Kylie Minogue and Michael Bublé have also released the song on their own Christmas Albums.
However, especially after the year that we have all endured, it seems hard to enter into the Christmas spirit. Because of lockdowns, tiers and travel restrictions, the ‘hope’ that we could enjoy a more normal Christmas seems to be, at best, a pipe-dream. But in spite of what is going on around us, the message of Advent and Christmas reverberates with real hope!!
One of my favourite Christmas readings, that we always have at the prison carol service, is Isaiah 9:1-2, ‘Nevertheless, the time of darkness and despair will not go on forever….The people who walk in darkness will see a great light: for those who live in a land of deep darkness, a LIGHT will shine’…. This is, of course, Isaiah speaking prophetically, foretelling the birth of Jesus some 700 years later.
At that first Christmas, the shepherds on the hillside had their evening interrupted by the angel choir illuminating the night sky and singing out praises as it was declared a saviour had been born, Christ the Lord. The shepherds experienced the glory of the Lord shining on them and went in search of the Saviour (Luke 2:8-20).
The wise men watching the night skies observed a new star and set off in search of the new born king. Their journey took them to meet Jesus as a young child in a house. (Matthew 2:1-12) They had seen a light in the darkness, had got up from where they were and set off to find Jesus.
It feels, for many people, that we are living in days of darkness. The ongoing restrictions made necessary because of the coronavirus pandemic have impacted us all. This is an ongoing test of resilience that none of us have asked for. Some have lost loved ones, others are feeling the pain of separation. What many outside prison are experiencing today is akin to the daily reality for the guys I work alongside every day in prison; the physical restriction of movement and separation from loved ones. Into this sense of despair and isolation, the eternal message of hope, made possible by the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus, calls out to us afresh.
We do not have a new star rising in the east, or an angel choir as heralds of the coming of our Saviour, however, Jesus declared to us in John 8:12 ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.’
The glory of the Lord shining above them caused the wise men and the shepherds to get up and move towards Jesus. I remember a poster that was displayed on many Church Noticeboards at this time of the year:
Isaiah 60:1 tells us to, ’Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.’If you are not yet a follower of Jesus, this Christmas, I invite you to start your search for Him. The Bible teaches us that if we seek him, we will find Him, and then, for you, it will certainly be ‘the most wonderful time of the year’…….
‘His destiny was the Cross; His purpose was Love; and His reason was YOU’…..
Have a blessed Christmas.