When I tell people what my Dad does for a job, the next question is usually, "Are you really religious then?" And I never know what that actually means. What does 'really religious' mean? If it means going to church every week, then no, I'm not really religious. Or if it means reading the bible everyday, then, again, I would have to say no. I am not a devout person, and I don't pretend to be. What I can say is that throughout my life I have often felt far away from God, yet I have never doubted his existence.
Its not something I talk about much. Probably because I still haven't got my head around it all, and I also hate it when people shove their beliefs down other peoples throats. Yuk. But....saying that, this article popped into my life a few days ago, and whether or not you believe in any kind of Godly existence, it seems fitting.
The pressures of the outside world seem even more magnified at this time of year. It can be exhausting striving for perfection, when you feel so imperfect on the inside. And if you're not entirely sure whether God can be there to take a little of the weight off your shoulders at this time of year, then remember there are family and friends who can. They love you. Just as you are, messy, imperfect, ill, depressed, whatever. They don't care. They love you anyway.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has spoken on BBC Radio 2’s Pause for Thought programme to reassure listeners that however imperfect or ‘messy’ their Christmasses may be, God will still be there for them.
Thursday 15th December 2011
You know how every year you say, 'This year I'm going to get Christmas sorted out. I'll have the cards written by December the first and I'll work our properly what we can afford and do the presents in time, and I'll know exactly how many people are coming for meals and when, and...'all the rest of it. Lurking somewhere in our minds is the idea of the Perfect Christmas (probably with snow, only not the kind that closes down airports and messes up our travel plans).
And every year, mysteriously, all our plans seem to evaporate and it's the usual mess, with all the last minute panic. There'll be a good few people concerned just now about what they can afford for a start.
Yet it's odd in a way, this business of Perfect Christmasses. The story of the first Christmas is the story of a series of completely unplanned, messy events – a surprise pregnancy, an unexpected journey that's got to be made, a complete muddle over the hotel accommodation when you get there...Not exactly a perfect holiday.
But it tells us something really vital. We try to plan all this stuff and stay in charge, and too often (especially with advertisers singing in our ears the whole time) we think that unless we can cook the perfect dinner, plan the perfect wedding, organise the perfect Christmas, we somehow don't really count or we can't hold our heads up.
But in the complete mess of the first Christmas, God says, 'Don't worry – I'm not going to wait until you've got everything sorted out perfectly before I get involved with you. I'm already there for you in the middle of it all, and if you just let yourself lean on me a bit instead of trying to make yourself and everything around you perfect by your own efforts, everyone will feel a little more of my love flowing'.
I'm never sure whether to wish anyone a peaceful Christmas, because it hardly ever is. But I can wish you joy in the midst of the mess, and every blessing from the God of ordinary, untidy, surprising things.