Christmas is a time of celebration. Most of us are glad to meet with family and friends; we are pleased to be able to exchange gifts; we enjoy the festive lights and music, activities and meals. It’s good to hear from people we rarely see (this is the only time of year I actively look forward to receiving post!); it’s wonderful to go to Nativity performances and listen to children singing lustily. All these activities remind us of joy.

Celebrations are an inherent part of the Christian faith and its Jewish origins. Celebrations generally focussed on what God had done: the Passover, a reminder of God’s miraculous deliverance from slavery in Egypt; Purim, when Jews remember the story of Esther and how God preserved their nation from the murderous intentions of Haman; Christmas, Easter and Pentecost all key celebrations in the Christian faith. Celebrations without God are likely to leave us feeling worse the next day, but when we celebrate with God, there is joy that lasts forever. Jesus, whose first miracle was at a wedding, is there in all celebrations, the true source of joy.