I tend not to do “journal” type entries, but there’s no harm in ringing the changes every now and again.
I’ve got to admit that Christmas day did not start well. I’d been very busy on Christmas Eve - a children’s service to which hardly anyone came and a midnight service where I thought my preaching a fair bit below par, followed by the need to do some “Santa” stuff, which all meant I didn’t put my head to the pillow until almost 2.30am. There was a time when I could take those sort of hours in my stride, but that time is past! The upshot (if that’s the word I’m looking for) is that I began Christmas Day feeling just a trifle off-colour. Grouchy, even.
I find it’s usually best to put a brave face on, and morning worship seemed to go pretty well. After service a few of us were doing Christmas dinner in the church. This had been advertised for those who would otherwise hve been on their own and the take-up had been disappointing. Was it going to be a waste of time? At 12.30 and with the food all prepared, the overseas students that we’d been expecting hadn’t shown up. It was hard to avoid resenting being out of the house, where presents were still wrapped under the tree and home comforts abound.
Just then, my father-in-law came in from his constitutional and announced that there was a homeless man in the bus shelter opposite the church. I went across and invited him to join us. He wasn’t keen and I didn’t press him. Perhaps he’d think about it? By the time I got back to the kitchen, the soup that we’d got for starters (butter bean and lemon) was ready, so I grabbed a mug and returned to the bus shelter. Where my powers of peruasion failed, a mug of hot soup succeeded: 10 minutes later he was in the church hall tucking in with us, eating everything before him with enthusiasm.
His arrival changed everything. All the latent resentment evapourated as I shared with a very disparate company of family, friends and strangers one of the jolliest Christmas meals that I can recall. I hope I don’t seem to be going too far when I say that it seemed to me that around that table I caught a glimpse of the Kingdom. What more could I ask of Christmas Day?