Christmas Comes to Ness

It’s raining in Inverness. The roads are slick and dappled with puddles. And it’s busy. Unusually busy for such inclement weather but if they feared to venture out every time the sky burst, little would be seen of the native highlanders.

Besides, it’s nearly Christmas isn’t it? We’re all thinking it but everyone is dreading saying it out loud. It seems not that long since the last one, a little extravagant to have one every year perhaps. I can see it in their faces.

Contrary to promise, things haven’t picked up. They were never going to, we just went along with it, clinging fast to the chance that things might get better. The year is dying and our hope is dying with it.

The lights are beautiful, glinting in the encroaching darkness, unable to keep at bay the fading of the days. The sodium streetlights cast pools of yellow, but though it reminds us of sunlight, the cold electric does not fool us. We all know it but no one dares say it. We try to drown it under receipts for things that, deep down, we know we don’t really want.

We need light. We need hope. We need something better than rain soaked pavements hung with tinsel.

Listen carefully and you can feel it. Peel back the sound of cheerful singing, set aside the cringey rhyming advertisements, look beyond the star tipped pines. Everything is groaning.

The whole world.

It’s not a humbug groan. It’s a groan of pain, a sigh of expectation from somewhere deep within. It cannot always be heard but it can be felt — the whole of creation yearning so much that it hurts.

We need light. We need hope. We need. . . something. Something to fix this mess we can’t admit we’re in. Food can fill us up but not for long. Gifts can distract us but only momentarily. Choirs can muffle the sound but cannot silence it.

The whole word aches with longing. Deep inside even you cry out for light, for hope, for meaning.

On Christmas morning I will lie in bed and breathe out a sigh. It’s one of my favourite mornings. We do not get up early on Christmas. We’ve been waiting a long time for this day when we may at last rest.

The world sighs with me because today is the day. Today we remember.

Today the Light of the World was born to light the way.

Today the Hope of the Nations was born to make that hope reality.

Today God the Provider became provision incarnate.

Today our cries were heard.

The world still aches. The days still grow shorter. The heart of man still yearns for something more. We do not know how long the wait will be. But everything in creation groans, knowing that what was begun that first Christmas day, planned from eternity, will come to completion. The pain of longing is now soothed by the promise fulfilled in a newborn child and we can look forward in hope.

The days are dark but a star shines over Bethlehem. We are all weary with winter but the light will come again. Christmas shines like a beacon, a sign our cries have been heard. It is a promise that the sun will rise on easter morning, the Son is alive and all will be well. The winter feels like it will never end, but this world is not forever. The promise still stands and we long for its fulfilment.

In the meantime, it’s raining in Inverness. The roads are slick and dappled with puddles. And the whole world is yearning for the return of the light.

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