The below Christmas message has been written by our Lead Chaplain Ami-Adessa Lindo, who has taken the time to reflect on some of the challenges Christmas can impose, and how we overcome them.
Ami has said, “It’s at this time when we ponder upon the challenges we’ve overcome and look forward to the things we hope to achieve in the year ahead. Which for most of us includes getting rid of those excess turkey and mince pie pounds, I jest.
“Christmas can, however, be a particularly difficult time for some of us, as we face getting through this season without those that mean the most to us.
“I recently got caught in diverted traffic after approaching a major accident on the boundary of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. I had no clue how to get to my location traveling down alternate streets but continued driving until I was caught off guard by a house that was filled top to toe in Christmas lights.
“The sight was so magnificent I had to pull the car over to take it all in. It was like something you’d see on the early morning news.
“As I approached the house, I saw two women in the garden selling Christmas cakes to raise a bit of cash for charity. They invited me onto their property boundary, and we began to talk about their display of Christmas lights complete with reindeer and life size sled. – Naturally, I was interested to know what their energy bill was looking like for a set up like theirs, but I held back from asking and instead asked how their display got to this magnitude.
“The ladies shared with me that their father would visit them a few days before Christmas every year and on the day of his visit they would mark his arrival through the turning on of their Christmas lights. They went on to say that one year their father became really poorly and passed away two days before Christmas which totally devastated the entire family and inevitably made them feel reluctant to celebrate Christmas that year due to their tremendous loss which was made worse knowing how much Christmas meant to their father.
“Thinking over how much joy these lights brought to their dad they felt it was important to continue the tradition in his honour and so they invested in more lights that year to make sure that even from heaven he’d see the lights being switched on. They’ve now been doing this for the past 19 years which I find incredible and what an amazing tribute to his life.
“In doing this each year they’ve raised thousands for the hospice where their father took his last breath. This act of remembrance brings so much joy to their neighbourhood and passers by and so they continue in this tradition turning a very sad situation into a joyous one which benefits so many people in their late fathers name.
“I tell you this story because there are occasions in our lives when an unexpected blow may take us off course and redirect us into unfamiliar territory and whilst this can cause a lot a anguish and even setback the circumstance hasn’t been designed to destroy us but instead to place us on a path that will cause us to stop, take in our surroundings and help us appreciate that had this life event not redirected our path, we wouldn’t have discovered how big and bright a place we now find ourselves in.
“At this time, Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, aka the light of the world, aka the prince of peace. The bible provides countless examples of when Jesus encounters people who have met a roadblock in their situation and struggle to find a way back on track. In the book of Mathew 5:16 it says In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (NIV) which understandably you don’t always feel to do when you’re up against it in your difficult situation.
“You might have been redirected in life because of the loss of a loved one. You may struggle to know where to go after a bad break up or feel you’re at a standstill in your career and now find yourself frustrated because of the barriers that have been placed before you. What ever your situation, this hasn’t been set before you to destroy you but instead to shine a light on the areas of your life that need attention, which intern will guide you to where you were always meant to be.
“Just like in the story I shared with you of the two ladies I was fortunate enough to meet recently. Do something inspiring in 2023. Don’t allow your negative situation to put a roadblock in your life. Turn your negative situation into a positive. Take a left and then a right and see where the other roads lead to and most of all take in your surroundings along the way!
“You will overcome.
“I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a blessed 2023.”