The past flits and flutters back into my thoughts and alights on the branches of memory:
Snowdrifts in front of Selby Abbey glowing in the warmth of Christmas lights, echoing the sounds of brass and song as carols waft in a chilly breeze;
A chill north wind funnels through the ancient Bridge of Don as excited children drop their Poohsticks into the water and clatter to the other parapet to see who wins this time;
Antiphonal song from the rear gallery responds to the choristers bedecked in red and ruffle in front;
Aunt and grans converse and laugh as children play, toys as yet unbroken, grampa slumbers;
School halls resound with much rehearsed Christmas song and cheer and a breathless annual rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas;
Shrieks of delight as paper is torn and parcels open to new delights and unbridled thank you hugs;
Laden tables, peopled by loved ones long gone, now populated by the memory of their influence as family tales are retold midst knowing smiles, laughter and occasional tears.
So many memories of Christmases past to enrich and enlighten our thinking, we cannot name the long- discarded presents or even the colour of the wrap but we can name and feel again the warmth, joy, mirth and love that was shared then. When all is said and done the memories are of people, the folks we spent those days and nights of celebration with, it is they who inhabit our thoughts, kindling the warmth, highlighting the joy, defining the mirth that we shared and augmenting the powerful love that we have continued to feel across the intervening years. For many, deep in the heart of that love, resides a resilient and affirmed faith in Christ, the celebration of whose birth continues to lie at the heart of these celebrations.
Christmas is a time for giving and receiving, a time for gladness and sadness but above all it is a time to remember God’s timely intervention, His humble taking of human form, His commitment to His loved ones, His determination to bring light to darkness, His engagement with our frailty. It is His action that defines us, draws us into relationship, one with another and with Him. As you reflect on Christmases past and enjoy the companionship of friends and family in these and future days, give thanks for every earthly relationship that reflects and sparkles with divine life.
May you all know God’s very special blessing in the Christmas Season and in the hope that the New Year will bring.
Chairman, Faith in Older People