It’s not long since a few hundred of us packed into Leeds Minster for the Yorkshire Evening Post Carol Service.
Most people come excited. A few are panicking about all they’ve got left to do. And one or two scrooges come pretending they are all ‘Bah Humbug’ when we know that they enjoy it just as much as the rest of us!
Every year I am staggered by the generosity of the people of Leeds who donate toys at the service that will be given to children who otherwise might not get much for Christmas.
And it makes a real difference.
A while back I was talking about the service to a person who told me that the toys he received as a boy over 60 years ago had come through a similar scheme; without them he would have had nothing for Christmas. Generosity changes lives.
The other day I took my two youngest children to see Father Christmas. One ‘believes’ and couldn’t wait for his turn.
The other one turned to me, winked and said ‘I know dad’. Well all I can say is that it didn’t stop her from reciting her list and from taking the present!
The real message of Christmas is not too different.
Regardless of what we think and whether or not we believe, God still pours out his love into the world in all its beauty and its pain by choosing to enter into our reality to transform it from the inside.
And rather than popping in once a year to take the credit for all the hard work of others, God stays with us all year round; sharing in our tears as much as our laughter, through thick and thin, so that we might discover the truth and depth of what it means to be loved and be free to love in return.
I know that Christmas means all kinds of different things to different people.
My prayer is that this year we all might discover something new about the God who is with us, giving love without measure.
Have a very Merry Christmas.