Christmas is a bitter sweet time for many of us because it is intended to be such a joyful time, grief and sadness is felt more acutely.

Christmas can be a time of sadness as we remember those who were at table but are no longer, because of death or family breakdown, or even travel restrictions.

This year has been another year of uncertainty, ending as it began, questioning whether we can make plans about the future. What it does highlight is how tenuous that sense of control that we feel over our lives really is - and that is not necessarily all bad. It does allow us to evaluate what is truly important to us and refocus.

This year has also been a year of grief and loss - for all of us a loss of a sense of control and the loss of close connection with family and friends who live far from us. For some there is the greater loss of loved ones, sometimes without being able to spend time with them.

Yet the story of the birth of Jesus still resonates.

The frantic Joseph searching for accommodation for his very pregnant wife.

Mary with seemingly nowhere to go to bear her child.

The child finally born in the animal shelter.

And then having to flee for their lives!

Not a very secure beginning. But a very human beginning immersed in the tangled mystery of human life.  A beginning of great signficance because of Jesus' life and his death and resurrection.

We celebrate Jesus, God born as one of us.

The ancients could not fathom a god deigning to be a part of humanity.

Yet that is the essence of the Christian message. God with us in all the messiness of our human condition. God with us still, God with us now, God with us in all our circumstances here and now, and that is good news.

God bless you all

Dean Phillip