I love Christmas! It’s absolutely my favourite season and one that I look forward to every year. The decorations, food, the Christmas lights, gift-giving and receiving and spending time with family are all reasons I love this time of year. But it’s not the main reason. The main reason is that, no matter how our year has gone, it remains a time of hope. Are you hopeful this Christmas? Do you feel the hope of better things to come? I can guarantee that not all of you reading this will feel hopeful. It’s been a difficult and trying year for everyone in some way, and trying to muster the strength to enjoy Christmas may just be too much, never mind finding hope. I hear and feel that pain. I’ve been that person and gone through that veil of shadow.
But let me give you hope as we enter into this season of Advent, to refocus your thoughts and direct you towards finding hope this Christmas.
Follow the Star
I’m guessing you know the Christmas Story. If not you can read it in full in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels in The Bible. The part of the story I want to focus on is that of the Wise Men. These wise men had an epiphany (a sudden realisation about this star and what it meant). So of course they followed it, and it led them to Jesus. What’s my point you may ask? My point is that we can find hope by following our own Star. People call it different things depending on their beliefs, but by listening to that still small voice inside us that will lead us to goodness and truth, we can find hope. Try listening to your inner voice, follow those thoughts that feel intuitive and inspired, and you’ll be on your way to finding hope this Christmas.
A symbol of light, a symbol of hope
So often when we are feeling low, it is so easy to give in to the negative thoughts that may plague us. The spark of life inside can be dimmed and all our expectations for the Christmas season can be abandoned and cast aside. What’s the point, you may ask? If you are in that place of darkness, please don’t be there alone. It’s so important to have someone to walk through that place with you, and so important that you allow yourself that time to grieve, whatever, or whomever, your loss. No matter your hardship, don’t ignore the pain you feel. Express it. But then look to the future. Find a new beginning and hope in the message of Christmas. Find your star, your Spirit, your hope, and follow it.
The symbol of light, the star that led the wise men to Jesus, inspired hope during a time of great pain and darkness. Let it do the same for you too!
A light in the darkness
In The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R Tolkien, Lady Galadriel gives Frodo a phial of starlight, saying, “May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out”. Starlight has ever been used as a message of hope in times of darkness. A beacon of hope that shines brightest in the dark. There are so many people who struggle to see the light, at any time of year, but often most especially at Christmas. The expectation of this time of year can often be overbearing and the pressure mounted upon us to provide a certain standard can be too much. However, just as Glaladriel knew that Frodo would face such terrible darkness, she offered him a way through. He didn’t remain in the dark.
A message of hope
Just the same, the Christmas message is one of hope and light. For all the pageantry and excess associated with Christmas, the Christmas story, the arrival of hope into the world, happened in humility and darkness. Whether you believe in the Christmas story is irrelevant here. If nothing else, the symbolism of the events at that first Christmas echoes down to us today. So many of us have been brought low this year through events none of us could have anticipated. Covid 19 has laid many of us bare through death, unemployment, fear, anxiety, loneliness…the first Christmas was no different. Hope and light shone in the darkness and made a way forward. A new beginning beyond pain and uncertainty.
Look forward with hope
Whether you have weathered 2020 well, or whether you’ve really struggled this year, I encourage you to find hope this Christmas. It’s the time of giving and receiving, and what better gift to give someone than the gift of hope. It’s so easy to get bogged down in preparations or our own pain, that we forget to look up. If you are in a position of plenty, of joy, and are full of hope this season, reach out. There are many around you who are struggling emotionally, financially, physically. You could be their hope in the darkness and see them through what would otherwise be a difficult Christmas. Or you could be that person struggling. I encourage you to look up also and seek the hope of Christmas in small ways. Embrace the love and kindness of others, give that same love and kindness where you can. And above all, look forward with hope in your heart, that there are better times ahead.