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God rest you merry everyone!

God is with us whatever the circumstance, says Right Rev. Paul Williams, St. Andrews Anglican Church
The Right Rev. Paul Williams, Dean of St. Andrews Cathedral Church said in the Views of Faith column that God is with everyone no matter what their circumstance. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

God rest you merry, everyone!

These days, you cannot go into the mall, the grocery stores, virtually anywhere, without hearing Christmas songs and carols and Yuletide hymns. For many people, these songs and choruses bring a sense of joy and expectation as they look toward the celebrations, the family time, the parties and the presents. They foster a sense of bonhomie, a good-natured geniality, and perhaps a desire to share with those around them.

At the same time, though, for others, perhaps many more others, hearing these same songs increases a sense of disconnectedness and even despair. There is little money to spare for more than the basics, never mind the parties and presents. Families for some are distant memories or a source of pain and perhaps fear. The joy that these songs typify seems alien.

Then there are those who belong to different faith families which don’t celebrate Christmas, and who might find the whole idea troubling yet have to listen to these same songs in these same places. Not to mention the folk who look at the monetization of the season with horror and regret. As one Christmas song puts it: “Heard this same song twenty times, and it’s only Hallowe’en!” And again, “But mostly shopping, shopping, shopping!”

In all of this though, or perhaps because of all this, the actual, at root, basic message behind the music, behind the celebrations and the season, seems to get lost in the shuffle for many.

God is with us, whatever our circumstances.

God is in our joys, our ‘busy-ness’, our tragedies, in our needs, through all the vagaries of this life, God - God the Creator, God the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Isaiah and the prophets, the God of promise, the God and Father of Jesus the Christ - this God is with us.

This God was with a people enslaved, exiled, beaten down; this God led these people to their Promised Land and returned them to it when it was taken from them; this God was with a pregnant teenager wondering what had become of her life, was with the new mom and her family fleeing the threat of death; this God is with the refugees and victims of suffering, isolation and loneliness in this generation. God is with us. God is with you.

And with this in mind, whatever your creed may I offer to you, for you, a sincere and heartfelt greeting and prayer from the early Middle Ages, often mis-quoted, carol: “God rest you merry”.

May God, your God, keep you; may God, your God, cause in you happiness, joy, and may that joy continue in you throughout the weeks and months to come.