Lights are reappearing outside our houses. It feels as if the inhabitants of the houses, although snug inside, are expressing their desire to reach out, shining into the darkness to light our way and remind us that although for a while we retreat from the cold we are still ready for the warmth of human connection.
Thinking back to last Christmas, I don’t remember the stress of who can see whom, but I remember that sense of connection with one another as people came together outdoors, at markets and carol singing on doorsteps.
The hard-hitting truth of human and earth connectedness has hit home during the COP26 negotiations – we cannot evade the reality that how we live here has repercussions around the globe and reaching forward into our shared future. How might we celebrate Christmas differently if we take seriously our commitment and connection with people and planet? What do we treasure most and how do we protect what we most value? I’m sure the answer is not that we would miss the endless pressure to buy buy buy, but we would miss the presence of others.
The Christian faith is deeply expressed in the Christmas desire for connection. God so desired connection with the world, that he sent his son Jesus to live here, with us and for us. God reached out and took shape as a baby, reliant on human nurture, to show us that we need each other, that we need God and that God too, in some sense, needs us.
Richard Zaghari-Ratcliffe ended his hunger strike, undertaken to ask the UK government to act and end the imprisonment of his wife, Nazanin, in Iran, by holding a sign outside the Foreign Office that said “Love is a verb, not a noun.” Love is known in the actions that strengthen our bonds as people, that protects the links that join us with all living creatures and with the earth. Love may lead us to sacrifice as Richard has done, or to protest, as thousands have done for the world and for human rights. Love led God to be born and to live in our world, connected with all people through the child in the manger.
May this Christmastime bring you close to those you love, give you peace with those with whom you struggle and renew joy in you and may “God bless us, everyone!” (Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol)