What a year it has been! Hardly a month has gone by without some difficult experience for us or those surrounding us – family, friends, corps folk and even our community. Personal tragedies, illness, financial troubles and the general grind of life have lrft a cloud hanging over 2008.
There have been some highlights: our successful holiday club, CLAN gathering, the safe arrival of my brother's twins, our brief holiday in Wales and the two Christmas plays by the Toddler group and the older children. But even these ar overshadowed by the constant stream of bad news.
We first heard our anthem for the second part of the year at CLAN gathering. Brian Doerksen led some inspiring and challenging worship sessions. Unlike many worship leaders , his music is varied and his lyrics cover the whole range of life's experiences. When buying one of his CDs we made sure it contained the song "how long, O Lord?"
Taken from Psalm 13, the line "How long O Lord must I wrestle with my thoughts, and every day have such sorrow in my heart?" this seems to echo the questions we have asked time and again for ourselves and those we love. Perhaps as a result, the struggles and pain surrounding the birth of Jesus have begun to come alive for us this Christmas.
Of course, the Psalm ends on a more positive note "but I trust in your unfailing love. You will be good to me." even after all we've been through this year – which will not stop when 2009 arrives – we know God is still there. But we seem to be peering at him through a veil of Scotch mist. We know he is good, but struggle to understand and at times to cope with the things he allows to happen.
My desire this Christmas is not to put aside the troubles or everyday life to celebrate the magic of Christmas. Rather I want to learn to hold the two in tension so that Jesus truly becomes a part of all of life, good and bad.