It has been good to watch the preparations around the Kilchoan estate as Christmas approaches.

The gardeners have been busy creating beautiful Christmas wreathes and decorating Christmas trees, some of the builders have made a stable for the Christian nativity scene and a shining star has even been placed at the top of one of the tallest trees!

As we prepare here for the arrival of Christmas there is a general sense of expectation, the hope of rest and relaxation after a challenging year, the hope of seeing friends and family, of sharing food and giving gifts and enjoying all that this season has to offer.

Traditionally Christmas has always been a time of hope, from that first Christmas 2000 years ago, when Mary must have been full of hope as her first born child was due to arrive, the natural hope of a new mother, that her baby would bring life and joy to her world, mixed with the news that she had received from God, that her baby was the one that could bring life and joy to the whole world!

Hope is a wonderful thing, and I think that this year we may need it more than ever. There is a saying that ‘hope floats’, the idea that when we are overwhelmed with life, perhaps through the challenges the virus has brought to us this year or maybe through the passing of a loved one, when we feel that we are sinking because of life’s burdens, if we can reach out and find something to put our hope in, it may lift us, like a life buoy lifting a drowning man.

We may hope in many things, in a vaccine for covid, in a new year and a fresh start, maybe in something as simple as time with loved ones this Christmas. However there is always the danger that the things that we hope for may not always happen, there is a proverb that says:

“hope differed makes the heart sick” Proverbs 13:12

But the bible also teaches us that hope in God “will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.”   Romans 5:5

This Christmas, as we make our preparations, as we decorate our trees and sit down with our loved ones, as we look forward to the new year and all the promises it can hold, let us reach out, with hope, to God. His love will never fail us, and just as He gave Mary the hope of new life, and all the joy that can bring, that first Christmas, so He offers us the gift of His Son Jesus, to come into our lives and lift us this Christmas.

Padre Robin Stephen, St Comghan’s Chapel