For the past two years Dearne Churches Together have left knitted sheep or nativity figures in local shops in Thurnscoe, Goldthorpe and Bolton-on-Dearne as a visible reminder to local residents of the Christmas story (and the chance to win a hamper by finding their names.) It’s been more difficult this year with lockdown, but instead of leaving knitted figures in shops, church members have been busy making angels! These will be distributed in strategic places in Goldthorpe (and other places if we get more angels!), and if you find an angel, please take it home with you and let it be part of your Christmas festivities this year – and beyond.
You might think this is quite a silly thing to do, but we believe that the symbol of the angels who feature so prominently in the Christmas story is not silly at all. The message those angels brought to the main characters in the story – to Zechariah and Elizabeth, to Mary and Joseph and to the shepherds who were among the first visitors to Jesus – is a message we desperately need today. It’s a message of hope and good news, always starting with the words, “Don’t be afraid!” It’s a message of joy and delight, because the angels came to announce the arrival of Jesus, a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths perhaps, but Jesus, the One who would take away the sin of the world and who would be Immanuel, God with us. It’s a message of peace and a reminder that God cares about us and is working in our ordinary situations to bring good things out of the chaos and light into the darkness.
We need these reminders today, when we have felt so alone and afraid because of the pandemic this year. We need to know there is hope, that we are not consigned to this strange new world of self-isolation, social distancing and face coverings for ever. We need to know there is peace and that we don’t have to live in fear. We need to know that there is joy to life because Jesus has come and will come again. So our Advent Angel Trail is not perhaps as foolish as it sounds and can bring excitement and anticipation to your hearts if you will seek and find.
We wish you all a very happy Christmas – and remember, Christmas begins with Christ.