Christmas message by Vicar of Sleaford, Rev Philip Johnson

Christmas is a story of joy and hope. Plans for Christmas have been made. We hoped that this year would be very different to last year. But the goalposts have moved. Hopes and expectations teeter on the brink of disappointment.

Rev Philip Johnson of St Denys' Church, Sleaford. EMN-211217-180249001
Rev Philip Johnson of St Denys' Church, Sleaford. EMN-211217-180249001

At St Denys’ Church we have been busy with risk assessments to see how much of our Christmas programme can go ahead – the good news is that most of it will go ahead, albeit with modifications.

That perhaps sounds more onerous than it is because over the past 18 months we have learned to move seamlessly from face-to-face encounters to virtual platforms. But it is not just church services and concerts that are affected. Many are concerned that they may not be able to travel to meet up with distant family, especially if they live overseas.

Christmas is a story of joy and hope, but it is also a story of uncertainty. The story of Jesus’ birth is over 2,000 years old, but it is set in a place where very little was certain.

People were being moved around the country for taxation and registration purposes, political change was at hand. Fear and uncertainty are two feelings that dominated the public mood. And when we think about Mary and Joseph, we also encounter uncertainty – so much could have gone wrong. But from the first announcement of Jesus’ birth to Mary, a beacon of hope is lit into the uncertainty of their world.

Hope is needed most when uncertainty is great. The Christmas story moves us from hope to joy. In what looks to be another uncertain Christmas season we will hear again of the light of hope that came into the darkness of an uncertain world. Let us hold on to that message of hope that we may come to celebrate with joy the good news of Christ’s birth.