I love this time of year. There is a buzz in the air, an anticipation, excitement for the season that is to come. Shops are full to bursting with tinsel, fairy lights, the smells and sounds of Christmas. On the telly, adverts abound encouraging us to buy their produce, asking us to believe that only they can provide the perfect gift or that signature dish that amazes everyone. Others promote their meaning of the season, be it old men on the moon, boxer dogs on a trampoline or a snowman looking for his sweetheart.
It is also a time when people across our country, and around the world plan the annual pilgrimage home. No matter where they are, there is an instinctive desire to be at home, to be with family and friends. In those days before Christmas, journeys are made, cars loaded with gifts. At Service Stations, brightly coloured jumpers of elves, snowmen and of course Santa adorn those pilgrims. There is an intentionality in their actions, the journey costing much, in time, effort and money. People smile at strangers, being more patient and accepting of others, as it is the season of good will after all.
Each family has its own traditions. The buying of the bumper issue of the Radio Times, then marking the films and Christmas specials they want to watch. Some open their presents on Christmas Eve, most open them on Christmas morning, and those with better self-control wait until after the Queen’s Speech. For our family we have a tradition of attending the late church service on Christmas Eve.
It is a wonderful event. The church looks stunning, glowing like gold in the candle light. With pews full, people singing, the sound of the carols makes me tingle. Then there is a sense of that presence. Something, a peace, a stillness, a sense of well-being. Some – and I am one – would say that is the presence of God. In that moment in that place we gather to give thanks for God’s son, Jesus Christ. We recall that God chooses to dwell with us as our God. It is a special moment, a highlight of our Christmas.
This year as you plan your journeys, and recall those family traditions, consider adding that extra Christmassy feeling by take part in the whole experience, and join with us on Christmas Eve. A time to give thanks for our friends and our families, for those who have made a special journey to be with us, and for those we have travelled great distances to be with. An opportunity to sit within the presence of God.
Whatever your plans, may the peace of God be with you, and all those you love this Christmas season.
Rev’d Richard Wallis is a Curate serving the Eight Saints Cluster of Churches which includes Carharrack, Chacewater, Devoran, Feock, Gwennap, Perran-ar-Worthal, St Day and Stithians. More information (including the times of those services) can be found at www.eightsaints.org.uk or follow us on facebook @EightSaints or Twitter @SaintsEight.