27th December, 2023: Pocklington, Yorkshire
I wonder whether you have ever sat in a theatre waiting for a musical to start. There’s a sense of anticipation and excitement, tinged by the fear that someone tall will unexpectedly appear on the seat in front of you and obscure your view. After what always feels like a lengthy wait, the conductor stands up, taps his music stand, and then the band strike up with the overture. The overture grabs your attention. The burble of conversation stops and there’s a sense of excitement as people eagerly soak up the music. The overture reaches a crescendo, and then comes to an end. There is a moment, often just a very brief moment, of silence. A moment of waiting. A moment of profound anticipation. And then the curtain rises and the performance begins.
After the waiting of Advent, with the anticipation and excitement of the coming Christmas, tinged with the anxiety that someone will spoil it all by testing positive for covid on Christmas Eve, the big day comes. Advent seems to last for ages, and then suddenly Christmas arrives! Christmas Day brings its own sense of excitement and grabs your attention. The food, presents and family traditions. The day reaches its crescendo and comes to an end. Then, between Christmas and New Year, comes this moment of silence. A time of waiting. A time of profound anticipation.
I always look forwards to the New Year with a mixture of excitement tinged with nervousness. Before it arrives, the New Year looks like a blank page, waiting for the story of the coming months to be written. It feels fresh and exciting. But of course, I know that there will inevitably be moments in the story of the year to come which will be challenging and disappointing.
For the moment, I’m in that special place between Christmas and New Year. It feels a bit like that moment of silence before the performance begins. For me, Christmas has been the overture, reminding me of the greatest story ever told – Immanuel – God with us. When the musical starts, it’s going to be good. Of course there will be the odd song which I don’t particularly like. One or two scenes will be longer than I might have wished, and several which could have been longer.
The coming year looks challenging. It’s not going to be straightforward. But the God of Advent love and joy, fills me with hope and an inner sense of peace. Whatever the future holds, I am not facing it alone.
‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’
Matthew 28:20 (NIV)