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Ruth’s article in the December Diary November 28, 2020

Posted by nicholastufton in The Diary Monthly letter.
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Carols sung by those wrapped up against the winter air; or choirs in churches by candlelight. This may not be possible this year and it may only be recorded carols that we hear. The pandemic has stopped singing in our churches, it has been months since we sang together and those favourite carols may remain unsung. 

As we reflect on this year we remember so much sorrow and sadness – lives lost, hospitals and medical staff under crippling pressure, families parted for months at a time, weddings, celebrations and social events put on hold. Internationally we hear of the terrible plight of those in countries torn by war, famine and natural disaster and of extreme poverty in our own nation. The economy is struggling, many are unemployed. It has been a lonely year for many, and the future remains uncertain even though the news of a vaccine becomes ever more hopeful.

The Church of England has chosen a line from a carol as its focus for this Christmas. A line which reminds us that Jesus came into this world to bring good news – news of comfort and joy. Comfort is what we so long for – the comfort of hugs and kisses, the comfort of family and friends visiting and sharing around our tables, the comfort of the battle won against coronavirus, the comfort of gathering together and the comfort of feeling safe after so much anxiety and fear.

We long for the joy of Christmas to return, to us and to those places where poverty, famine and war still rage, at home and abroad. Like our own, the world of first-century Israel was far from well. The people of Bethlehem also longed for comfort and joy and it was into this world that God in Jesus came.

We may not be able to sing in our churches but we can still sing in our homes; our carol service will be on YouTube and we can sing along then. Singing can bring us great comfort and it can bring us great joy. It doesn’t matter what we sound like – even less when only our family or the cat can hear us! If this year has brought you great sadness and anxiety, may you find comfort. If you have been blessed by good news, may you be joyful and may the peace of Christ bring both comfort and joy to you, those you love and to the world.

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