That’s it over for another year.

It will come and it will go.hyacinths

That’s it over for another year.

So many preparations, so much fuss……and it’s over so quickly.

Where did it go to?

I’m sure you have heard – and maybe uttered or at least thought – some of these phrases in the days since Christmas Day.

It’s true – we put so much effort into the Big Day, whether it’s choosing the right gift for the right person; or wrapping our gifts beautifully; or the endless grocery-shopping; or the grande finale – the Christmas Day dinner. So much thought, so much time, so much energy expended into making Christmas Day memorable. Not to mention people flying all over the world so that they can join their loved ones for the Big Day.

Now and again, in the midst of our preparations and planning, we catch a glimpse of other things which are reminders that real life is going on in the real world from which we are somehow cocooned for a few days in our festive comfort. People are still dying from hunger, victims of human trafficking are still being trafficked, wars are still being fought, death and disease are still our enemies.

And it’s to that real world that we now must somehow return. The Christmas fairytale doesn’t last forever. It’s not happy-ever-after. We must extricate ourselves from the warm comfort of family feasts and return to…..work? debt? illness? or just the routine of real life.

So is that it all over?

It’s only the beginning.

Jesus knew we needed more than a fairy-tale ending. He was born in a smelly manger among the animals. He lived among ordinary people and socialised with questionable people. He died on a cross – a messy death which branded him a criminal. No fairy-tale ending for him.

But his life and his death mean that he understands the messiness of our lives – the disappointments, the hurts, the despair. It means he understands our fears and failures too, our reluctance to face reality, our fear of what life – or death – may hold for us.

Because he lived and died, we can face the future, including Monday morning or the New Year or whatever it is that we fear. We can face our failures too. With Jesus, there is always the possibility of a fresh start, a new beginning. There is always hope.

Now that the poinsettia is almost done and the amaryllis never made it, the bulbs of the hyacinth are bursting with new life – each time I see them, I think of spring and new life and hope.

There is Easter after Christmas. There is hope as one year ends and a new year begins. Whatever your Christmas was like, whatever your year has been like, there is hope as you step into a new year. Step into it with Jesus – he forgives our past, he gets involved in the messiness of our present and he gives hope for our future.

Christmas is only the beginning. Because Jesus came, we have hope.

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