For many of us, Christmas can be a magical time of year: a time for sharing gifts, for enjoying the company of friends and loved ones, for relaxing and celebrating.
There are many others, though, for whom the festive season can be a time of stress, anxiety, even dread.
For some, indeed, this season of peace and goodwill, of friendship and fellowship, can ironically be the loneliest time of year, a ‘blue Christmas’.
We are told that the technological revolution - with mobile phones, electronic devices and social media - has made us far more ‘connected’ than ever before in history.
How come then that there are people living among us - in our towns and villages and streets, maybe even in our own families - who feel lonely, isolated and abandoned?
Nobody should feel like that. Not at any time of the year and certainly not at Christmas.
One of the most joyful parts of Christmas for me is the opportunity it affords to visit retired clergy and their spouses. I like to think they look forward to these visits as much as I do. In some cases, they may no longer enjoy the best of health, but the warmth of their welcome and their generosity of spirit never fails to move and inspire me.
So, this year, as you wonder how you might celebrate the festive season and spread the Good News, why not call with someone - a relative or neighbour - who might appreciate a visitor? Someone who’s, perhaps, old or sick, living on their own, struggling to make ends meet, yearning for some company, some conversation and some friendship?
It may surprise you to learn that, while Christmas presents are very much appreciated at this time of year, your presence can be far more valuable.
Of course, the greatest gift that any of us can receive is Christ’s presence in our lives. In John 14:27, Christ bequeathed us something very special: peace - His peace.
I hope Christmas is good to you this year, that it proves as magical as in your wildest dreams. Most of all, though, I hope you discover the peace of Christ this festive season. I hope you enjoy his presence in your life and that you radiate Christ.