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1 December 2020
Words Janine Donaldson
For author Emily Dickinson, hope is the thing with feathers.
In my present world, hope is the small things. Never has this been more pronounced than this year of 2020, when hope is definitely celebrated in small, but significant steps.
As we look towards Christmas, you, like me, may have a mix of emotions. There is pain from this year – things not able to be achieved, separation from family and friends, isolation and loss of income and employment.
Along with these feelings, Christmas can be a reminder of unresolved conflict, painful relationships and stress around affording gifts for the important people in our lives.
Yet, when I hear Christmas music, see a lighted tree, take in the beautiful decorations or smell a delightful Christmassy smell, there’s a feeling of wonder, awe and hope. Christmas inspires hope most of all for me. The stories and symbols that speak to the Christmas story whisper, “Keep going, don’t give up.”
The Christmas story draws me to the star of hope that led the wise men to Jesus. Just as they were guided towards the baby, so Jesus promises to guide us. We can trust him on our journey of life.
The Christmas story draws me to believe – to believe the impossible. Jesus, born of Mary in a stable filled with farm animals. The Saviour of the world born in a simple, smelly stable. Yes, I believe.
Lastly, Christmas draws me to the light that persists in the darkness of whatever circumstance I find myself in. That light is what the Christmas story is all about.
This Christmas message is unchanging. It’s a message for a world in trouble. It’s a personal message. Light shines brightest in darkness.
That’s the heart of the Christmas story – love, light and hope.
Christmas reminds us that even when things seem dark, we can trust the everlasting light.
“A light that thrives in the depths of darkness … It cannot and will not be quenched” (John chapter 1, verse 5).
Commissioner Janine Donaldson is co-leader of The Salvation Army Australia