Article in the Living Faith Column of the Walsall Advertiser, published on the 17 December 2015
Whether it be going shopping, visiting a pub or restaurant, or listening to the radio, there is no escaping Christmas music which is being played everywhere at the moment. One of the most popular Christmas songs is Slade’s 1973 hit ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’, performed by Walsall’s very own Noddy Holder. The chorus has these words: ‘So here it is Merry Christmas, everybody’s having fun, look to the future now, it’s only just begun’.
It is a fun, catchy song, but despite what the lyrics say, Christmas for many people can be a sad and difficult time, whether that be as a result of bereavement, relationship problems, loneliness, unemployment, health concerns, or financial worries, etc.
Loneliness for example is said to be as bad for health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is twice as harmful as obesity, and raises the odds of developing dementia by up to two-thirds. That is why the retail firm John Lewis has partnered with Age UK this Christmas to try and help some of the one million older people in the UK who go for a month without speaking to anyone.
When Jesus was born (the event we celebrate at Christmas) he was given the name Emmanuel, which means ‘God With Us’. Jesus said that the reason he came to the world was to “seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
Because God became one of us, He knows and understands what it is like to hurt, to feel lost, lonely and afraid, because He himself has experienced these things.
Christmas is about knowing that we are loved unconditionally by God, and that whatever circumstances we may face in life nothing can separate us His love. As St Paul wrote ‘I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love—not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord!’ (Romans 8:38-39)
Even in the midst of life’s difficulties, knowing that we’re are loved by God and that He will never abandon or forsake us, can bring a real and lasting hope to our lives, and that is one gift we could all do with this Christmas.