Christmas 2020 is a time to remember that when all feels lost, there is hope – Jen Robertson

This year, it’s not just the supermarkets who started the countdown to Christmas early. It’s everyone.

Nativity plays like this one performed before the Covid outbreak may not be possible this year, but the Christmas Windows project provides a different way for people to tell the story (Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Nativity plays like this one performed before the Covid outbreak may not be possible this year, but the Christmas Windows project provides a different way for people to tell the story (Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Given what’s happened this year, it’s no surprise people want the festive season to get started.

As we get closer to Christmas, the more it will become clear just how different it will be. And as we navigate rules, recommendations, and stand-offs with family members about who bubbles with whom, we will naturally be thinking about previous, easier Christmases, when everywhere you looked, you were reminded of the joy and celebration right around the corner.

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This is not the Christmas any of us chose, the season finale of a year we didn’t want.

And while we have some freedom over the five days of Christmas, while there are ways we can celebrate as if everything was normal, it is going to be hard work.

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Churches across Scotland are grappling with the restrictions, trying to figure out how to celebrate this key moment in the Christian calendar.

Candlelight services that brought in the whole community, Watchnight masses where faithful worshippers crammed in with those looking for somewhere to warm up after last orders, are all being reworked in the hope they will have the same appeal on Zoom.

Hope. It’s a word we’ve probably been using a lot this last year but seen little of it. Hope for a vaccine, for normality, that 2021 will be nothing like this year. It’s a word we say, but perhaps we don’t put any weight on. Hoping doesn’t really have much power and, just like crossing your fingers, doesn’t necessarily mean everything will turn out as you want.

Yet, over this Christmas period, as it has done for thousands of years, the church will be choosing to hope. Not in something that might happen, but something we believe has happened.

The church will be thinking back to a previous Christmas. Not an easy one, but one where God himself entered our broken world, that we may have someone in whom to rest our hope.

That hope is one that destroys fear and frustration, dissolves conflict, and frees us from despair.

It’s a hope we not only hold onto, but will celebrate this year, as much as any.

This year we are privileged to be partnering with hundreds of churches across Scotland, as we display hope in the windows of our homes. Twenty thousand “Christmas Windows” activity packs have been distributed to families, who will hear a snapshot of the Nativity story from the Bible each day and draw a little bit of that first Christmas on their windows for themselves and their neighbours.

These windows will be a sign that even when times are dark, there is light. And when all feels lost, there is hope. As you take a walk, we invite you to look out for this hope in your neighbourhood.

Maybe with other traditions put on hold until 2021, this Christmas we can all ponder what this celebration is all about.

And along with choosing to put up the tree early, this could be the Christmas we choose a hope that doesn’t start and end at Christmas. That the hope Christmas can bring will continue to shine even when the fairy lights are put away.

Jen Robertson Children’s Resource Manager at the Scottish Bible Society

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