“Tell my people I love them, tell my people I care. When they feel far away from me tell my people I am there.”

Last Saturday, on my day off, as I walked our dog along the beach these words from a 1970’s song came into my consciousness. I had just been watching the morning news and with the terrorist attack in Paris only a week previously and now another attack on a hotel in Mali and Brussels in shut down from the severity of the threat of an attack it left me feeling somewhat numbed by it all. In these moments as even Archbishop Justin Welby says it is easy to doubt our faith. Where is God in all of this? As I walked these words from the song cut through all of my feeling of doom and gloom and in that special moment God did indeed feel close by and I felt strengthened to face yet another round of “bad news” next time I listened.

“Where is God in all of this?” is a question I frequently find myself asking in the run up to Christmas. Last year I visited a “pop-up” Christmas shop which was pretty big, but as I wandered round I didn’t find a single item that portrayed anything of the true Christmas, not a card, book or tacky ornament.

I was recently sent a link to this year’s Mulberry Christmas advert and I watched with some amusement. The scene is set. It’s Christmas Eve and there is a young couple in their cosily decorated home. The man gives the woman her Christmas present and as she opens it a beautiful red leather Mulberry handbag is revealed. As she lovingly caresses it and cradles it in her arms first shepherds and then Wise Men appear and all gaze in wonder at this beautiful gift until the man rather embarrassingly blurts out “it’s only a bag!” The others give him a look that says “how could you be so stupid!”

For many the heart of Christmas, the big moment of the whole celebration is the big act of present opening, this is the focus of Christmas. Sometimes for Christians blurting out “it’s all about a baby called Jesus” can receive the same look of disbelief from the world.

But of course Christmas is all about baby Jesus, Christmas was and is God’s idea and the world does so need to hear this. If we as Christians don’t tell the world no-one else will. We do however always need to follow through with the link to the Easter story. One year one of my daughter’s Hannah aged about 5yrs. drew a Christmas tree and under it were the figures from the nativity and also an Easter egg, when I challenged her about getting her seasons mixed up she replied “but you can’t have Christmas without Easter!” and gave me a look that said “Silly mummy!”

One reason God feels far away is that he often gets wrapped up with the Christmas ornaments and stored in the attic only to be brought down the next year and dusted off.

The remainder of the song I was reminded of last week-end:

Tell my people I came and died to give them liberty,

and to abide in Me is to be really free.

Tell my people where’er I go my comfort they can know;

My peace and joy and love I freely will bestow

This Christmas let’s have the boldness to declare the true meaning of Christmas and also to tell the next instalment of the story, of a baby who grew up, showed us how to live the way God wants us to, died for our wrongdoings and opened the way to eternal life.

May we metaphorically speaking cradle the baby Jesus in our arms this Christmas and wonder at God’s amazing love for us, this most supreme gift of all.

“Tell my people I love them, tell my people I care. When they feel far away from me tell my people I am there.”