December 2020/ January 2021
What will happen?
What will happen on (or maybe before) 2nd December 2020? Nobody knows!
The biggest question in everybody’s mind will be – will this current lockdown end? Or will it simply continue into 2021? What restrictions will be in place during Christmas 2020? Will we be able to meet together as families? Will we be able to travel – both within and without our country?
As a family we are anxiously waiting for that announcement or broadcast from the government about what will happen. You see, our eldest grand daughter will be getting married after Christmas in the USA. We’ve looked at flights to and from the venue; calculated costs (maybe I shouldn’t have bought that gadget last week!) and wondered if our savings will be enough to get us to that wonderful event. We want to plan for that date. In fact, we’ve spoken together about holiday plans and how long we can be away. Will we have to quarantine on our return? It’ll be a “first” of such events in our family and we can’t wait. And so …. We wait!
Around this time, according to our tradition, a young couple were also waiting for a “first happening” in their lives. They’d already had a bumpy start in their relationship – what with an unexpected pregnancy; a number of dreams and visions of angels visiting both of them; being told who their son was and what his name should be. And to make life more difficult – we know, but they didn’t! – they’d have to make the arduous journey to Bethlehem for an unexpected census and then flee to Egypt in order to save their son from the murderous actions of a desperate, wicked king.
There is a saying ‘the best laid plans of mice and men’ …. Often go awry.
This comes from a poem written by Robert Burns as an apology ‘To a Mouse’ (1786) after he’d upturned the mouse’s nest whilst ploughing a field.
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren’t alone]
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promised joy.
The saying means ‘the most careful plans may go wrong’.
Today is Remembrance Day 2020 and I’ve just watched the BBC broadcast commemorating the Centenary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or Warrior. It was extremely moving. Even more so to think that it all came about because of the actions of a Methodist Padre in World War I. Revd David Railton was the name of that Padre and you can read an article (written by him) on how it all came to fruition here – https://www.westminster-abbey.org/media/12819/unknown-warrior-origin-our-empire.pdf
Revd Railton’s plans were eventually fulfilled, and it made me wonder what plans are we busy making today? And I don’t just mean plans for Christmas 2020 – although rumour has it that it’s been cancelled like everything else in the last 9 months! Plans for the future resulting from possible or probable past experiences, being played out now in the present. Plans not just for yourself or even your immediate family. But plans that will involve and incorporate others. One thing we’ve learned from the Coronavirus Pandemic is how to look past ourselves and to look out for the welfare of others. Seeing that the needs of our neighbours are met. Communities coming together. Ordinary people (and the not so ordinary like Marcus Rashford) who have gone far out of their way or comfort zones, to help others and ensure that they are looked after.
As we contemplate Christmas, where we celebrate the coming of Christ to this earth and then the New Year of 2021, celebrating God’s goodness in allowing us to move into an unknown future year can we combine the two? Let us allow Christ’s coming to be celebrated in our lives by our acceptance and belief in Him. Knowing full well that 2021, with all its joys and sorrows will be even more fulfilling with Christ by our side, guiding and giving us the strength to carry on.
Yes, it’s true. The most carefully prepared plans may go wrong. But we can hope! And pray that our plans for the remainder of the year may come to fulfilment.
God bless you; may you have a blessed Christmas and a truly prosperous New Year.
Lay Pastor – Addington and Shirley Methodist Churches.