FOR SOME people 2020 may have seemed like a non-year. The year in which many things didn’t happen. The year in which plans needed to be abandoned or radically changed. And will it be a non-Christmas too? No family gettogethers? Certainly no major Carol Services and no Nativity Live. If the word ‘No’ should characterise Christmas 2020 it may remind us of another ‘No’.
There was “no room at the inn”.
For a couple facing a desperate life and death situation, learning that there was no room for them must have seemed like the last straw.
When members of the Windrush generation arrived in this country with high expectations of being welcomed by the mother country they had travelled to serve, responding to the British Government’s request, many of them, in seeking accommodation read notices in windows that said ‘No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs’.
If it should be a ‘No Christmas’ this year we can at least recognise that it is for our protection rather than a sign of rejection.
How can we turn the negative into a positive?
You’ll read elsewhere in Caversham Bridge of how the Churches Together are intending to send everyone a Christmas card in which it is suggested that on Christmas Eve we all come out of our houses (or stay indoors), and sing together a Christmas carol in a similar way to how we clapped to support the NHS earlier in the year. It may also give us an opportunity to greet our neighbours at Christmas. The carol is ‘O little town of Bethlehem’ which has the poignant line ‘The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight’. The hopes and fears relating to 2021 may concentrate our minds.
That is one response to turning the negative into a positive, but how will we do that individually this year?
Perhaps with less of the activities going on which can often leave us exhausted by the time Christmas arrives, this year there may be more opportunity for reflection – if we choose to take it.
And maybe that has been one of the special things about 2020 that, instead of being a non-year, it’s been a year when the pace of life may have altered, appreciation for our surroundings has deepened, creative gifts have emerged, and we may have re-assessed what really matters in life? Whether or not such reflection has been part of our year already, the opportunity could certainly be there this Christmas.
And maybe there are other creative ways of making Christmas special whatever the restrictions?……….
Revd. David Jenkins is a member of the Methodist Team Ministry and Co-Chair of Churches Together in Caversham