Are you ready for Christmas yet?

We’re barely into December and already I keep being asked if I’m ‘ready for Christmas?’  I simply smile and, instead of saying what’s really on my mind, respond in the usual way with ‘oh I expect I’ll get caught up in the atmosphere soon enough.’  It’s because I don’t want to put a dampener on anyone’s Christmas preparations that I don’t come right out with it and say Christmas can make people miserable.

There are a lot of lonely people in the world and it is more common than we think to feel like an outsider looking in at Christmas – sometimes within your own family.  It’s probably because the commercial aspect of Christmas highlights the family unit as paramount at this time of year.  As a friend of mine once said, ‘For some, Christmas is a painful time of looking round the family table and being aware of absences, of looking back and remembering happier times.’ (Rev. Geoff Bowell, Scarborough Christian Fellowship).  These absences are not always due to death of loved ones either. They can be attributed to other loss, such as unemployment, homelessness, family estrangement – sometimes of many years duration.  The latter of these is true for me.

I make no apology for baring my soul here because, at the same time, I am hopeful for a solution.  My words are the silent prayers of my heart.  A personal prayer that maybe this year my brother will respond to the Christmas card I send him – thus bringing an end to years of bitter separation.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the build up to Christmas. The buzz of shoppers, carols in the town centre, reindeer parading around Alma Square, buskers rocking round the Christmas trees spreading merriment.  I love the church activities, being part of a church family, meditating the Advent labyrinth, and waiting… for the comfort and joy that celebrating Christ’s birth means.  I hope that one Christmas Day I’ll awake to choirs of angels, surrounded in bright light, singing a chorus in celebration of the second coming of Christ.

Yet I’m also waiting in hope for my prayer to be answered…

I accept God’s love through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, and believe that healing through forgiveness of wrongs (past and present) is a real possibility… for all. I rely on this truth to ensure that Christmas for me is a time to appreciate what I have and not dwell too much on what I don’t have.  I remain grateful for unexpected moments of joy and small acts of kindness that I encounter, which encourages a choir of angels to sing in my heart every day of the year.

I’d like to invite you to pause between your preparations during the Christmas season – when we are often so busy that, when we do find time to talk to God, as soon as we say ‘Amen’ we rush off to the next thing and don’t give God the chance to respond.  Yet, in the smallest gap, God is waiting.  He longs for us to hear His voice in that space.

At the end of this prayer there is no ‘Amen’.  Simply sit in silence and talk to God from your heart… and listen for his voice in the stillness.

Waiting for God

Dear God,

help me to find a silent space.

I say ‘amen’.  Then I think again,
and instead of rushing away
to fill my day with this and that,
I stop. I sit. I wait. I stay
to listen to what you have to say
in-between the tick and tock
of my life’s busy, noisy clock,
and your voice fills the silent space.

Dear God,

help me to be still in the silent space.

I don’t say ‘amen’. I start again
because I don’t want to rush away
to fill my day with this and that.
I want to stop. To sit. To wait. To stay
and listen to what you have to say
in-between the tick and tock
of my life’s busy, noisy clock,
as your voice fills my silent space.

Dear God, help me to listen in the silent space.

Dear God, help me to hear you in sacred silent spaces.


(PS.  I have to ask… are you ready for Christmas yet?)


All text © Julie M. Fairweather 2012 – unless otherwise stated