What’s kept you going during this year of restrictions and closures, of the absence of hugs and social interaction, of fear, disappointment and despair? For me, it’s nature: the cycle of seasons from the emergence of spring bulbs to summer’s wild flowers, to the brilliance of the autumn colours and, in this winter season, the reflections in muddy puddles of fleeting sunshine, plus some stunning rainbows and glorious birdsong.

What else has kept me going? Technology. Who’d have thought I’d ever say that! In the absence of personal contact with family and friends, what a comfort it is to be able to keep in touch by Zoom, streaming, WhatsApp and other modern means of communication. We’re having to adapt to changes – some welcome, some not.

Yes, we live in changing times. But we have an unchanging God. If we’re restricted, he isn’t. When we’re fed up, he isn’t. When we’re stuck indoors, he’s there with us; if we take a daily walk, he’s happy to come too – and doesn’t have to socially distance. It’s not in his nature to keep at a distance. It’s we who put up barriers between him and us – not him! Let’s remember that Jesus came into the world as ‘Emmanuel: God with us,’ that he is the same yesterday, today and forever, that he said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” that his door is always open for us to go into his presence. He comes as the wise counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father and the Prince of peace. Our Christmas celebrations this year may be different, we may not see loved ones, but none of us has to be alone, because Jesus invites us to join him – this Christmas and every day.

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