This was not the Christmas we were expecting when we moved to London. About a week ago the Government announced that London would move into Tier 4 lockdown. Meeting people is restricted, non-essential shops and restaurants are closed again. We are all housebound except to exercise or buy groceries.
We were to spend Christmas lunch at the local pub. We booked early and carefully selected our meals dreaming how delicious it would be. But those plans have gone out the window now.
I am disappointed. I was looking forward to experiencing a traditional English Christmas pub meal for the first time.
It’s interesting what this lockdown reveals about ourselves and our priorities. So much has changed since the pandemic hit and there have been times I resented the “new normal”.
But this is Christmas.
While the world has changed, the Christmas message of hope and joy to the world has remained unchanged for centuries.
We may not be tucking into a lovely meal cooked by someone else, but food or no food, lockdown or no lockdown, Christmas hasn’t stopped. It can’t be stopped. It’s happened. It’s fact.
Two thousand years ago, a miracle happened. God sent His only Son to earth to be born human. It was the greatest gift history had ever seen. That tiny baby was going to save the world.
Hundreds of years before, His birth had been foretold by prophets. It was Isaiah who wrote:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
This tiny infant was that promised Messiah. And one day He would die for me.
I can’t help feeling like a bit of an idiot for being disappointed at the promise of confit duck and Christmas pudding that didn’t eventuate.
Instead we have the promise of reconciliation, of hope and immeasurable love. Grace that stretches as far as the east from the west. Peace on earth and good will towards men indeed.
Maybe stripping away the worldly festivities this year is an unexpected gift. An opportunity to focus on what’s truly important about the season. A time to look past the distractions and remember this incredible gift God has given us.
We were all supposed to go to church this morning. My husband is playing the piano at the 9am service today. But even the pleasure of attending church as a family on Christmas Day is denied us it seems.
Our boy came in contact with a student at school who developed COVID. Our son is ok. He hasn’t developed symptoms, but needs to self-isolate until the 27 December. According to regulations, my husband can still serve at church. So he will go on his own this morning.
It’s sad to greet Christmas with face masks and sanitisers. It’s utterly disappointing to have plans we looked forward to dashed at the last minute.
But beneath the disappointment and sadness, is a joy that can never be extinguished. A joy that comes from knowing just how much we’re loved by our creator. A sense of gratitude for this tiny child who will one day bring in a new heaven and a new earth.
In this broken and fallen world, His light shines brighter and His promise of home is all the more sweeter.
In Isaiah again we glimpse that promise:
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.
Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.Isaiah 64:18-20 (NIV)
A world without the brokenness of sin. A world that is meant to be. In this COVID-19 infested, painful and often disappointing world, I am looking forward to that.
So come, all you unfaithful, broken and exhausted, come see what our God has done.