Against all hope Christmas reaches us this year under a cloud caused by the Covid 19 pandemic. Back in the summer most of us hoped and expected that by Christmas the pandemic would have subsided to an extent that would have allowed us to celebrate Christmas with less rigid and strict restrictions. Alas, it is not so. We are paying a dear price of taking the virus lightly during the summer. The resurgence is frightening to most and damper on the Christmas celebrations for all. This Christmas will be devoid of the hectic shopping, busy preparations, social gatherings and family reunions to which we are accustomed. Of course, the church is not exempted from the effects of the pandemic. Our Christmas Family Social and Christmas pageant are not possible. Christmas services are limited. Some might philosophically say, “Well, it is what it is.” For others it is almost a disaster. As people of faith we trust God to lead us in these difficult times and into a new and better day. It will happen sooner rather than later.
The children of Israel waited for a long time for the coming of the promised Messiah. They did not give up hope no matter how dire their situation. In fact the worse their situation, the stronger their hope for the coming of the Messiah grew. In God’s time God sent the Messiah, the Saviour of the world. He was born at a time when the people were under the yoke of oppressive Roman rule. To say that he was born under austere conditions would be to make an understatement. A stable was his home. His cradle a feeding stall, swaddling pieces of cloths were his baby clothes. Yet a choir of angels celebrated in songs of praise and shepherd rejoiced at his birth. Kings visited, paid him homage and presented him with gifts. It was a celebration of great proportion embracing heaven and earth, despite the hard circumstances surrounding the birth of the Christ child. This is the paradigm for our celebrations of Christmas.
This year the Covid 19 pandemic has curtailed our celebrations of Christmas. It cannot take away the reason why we celebrate. We celebrate the birth of the Saviour. We celebrate God coming among us to share our life and identify with our human conditions and struggles. So, let us look to the manger and see the reason for the season and thereby celebrate Christmas in the spirit of the season.