Love everything about Christmas, especially the build-up: the waiting, anticipating, and patiently hoping for something wonderful to happen.
But Christmas is not just about escaping the harsh realities of life for a day or two by watching Doctor Who or The Great British Bake Off, however much we may like doing this. For me, getting ready for Christmas is about getting ready to listen, being ready to change, taking on something life-giving and life-transforming.
Life’s persistent and urgent question for all of us should surely be: “What are we doing for others?” This year we remembered that 50 years ago Martin Luther King delivered his spine-tingling “I have a dream...” speech, which was instrumental in facilitating the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. To be a great leader such as King, you have to love, you have to set an example, you have to take action, and you have to dream – not about yourself, but about a future shaped by love. You have to have that vision and belief that you can make it better.
But we remember, too, that it was also the courage and resolve of a single woman that got the ball rolling – Rosa Parks.
I often remind people that having an active faith is about being bold enough to take the first step, being a trailblazer and letting others follow in your path. It takes courage, it takes a yearning to make a difference, and it requires real love to bring lasting transformation. But what inspires people to want to show love in action, to help others and to make a difference to their lives? I believe it comes from the greatest example of love in action that the world has ever seen. The gift, God’s love that took on our very nature, of Jesus Christ.
He lived among us, and demonstrated – in a way we could understand – God’s total love for us. When we know we are loved, we find it easier to love other people. So this Christmas, don’t wait to try something new and don’t be fearful. I follow Jesus, and his teachings help me to live life in all its fullness. Whether you have faith, or none at all, his example should be something we all aspire to.
Time to reflect
The Big Sing: the UK’s Top Ten Carols
Sunday 22 December BBC1 Susan Boyle, Michael Ball, Britain’s Got Talent stars Jonathan and Charlotte and Hayley Westenra join Aled Jones to reveal the UK’s top ten carols.
Christmas with Aled Jones
Sunday 22 December Sky Arts 2 Magical music from the Royal Albert Hall. Songs performed include The Nutcracker, In the Bleak Midwinter and Howard Blake’s Walking in the Air — best known, of course, as the theme to The Snowman.
A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
Christmas Eve Radio 4 Carols from King’s Christmas Eve BBC2 Tune in to Radio 4 for the service from King’s College, Cambridge. The BBC2 programme later in the day tells the story of the Nativity through songs and poetry.
Westminster Abbey: the First Eucharist of Christmas
Christmas Eve BBC1 The traditional service, from O Come All Ye Faithful to Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. The celebrant is Rev Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster.
Christmas Eve ITV Candelit carol service at St Michael the Archangel in the village of Kirkby Malham in North Yorkshire. Performers include Russell Watson.
Christmas Day: Live from Westminster Abbey
Christmas Day BBC1 The classic morning service.