A Christmas Risk Assessment …
What will Christmas be like this year? I am writing this in the middle of the second lockdown, and we simply don't know. Normally at this time across the Ironstone Churches, we would have been finalizing our plans for special Christmas services - including Christingle services, Crib services, Carol services, and Christmas Communion.
This year, the best we can do is to have a flexible Plan A and Plan B - Plan A if we can gather for services in our church buildings (or outside) after 2ndDecember, and Plan B if instead we have to do everything online, or by telephone. And we know that, even if we are allowed to meet together, there will still be many differences from 'normal' Christmas services - e.g. no congregational singing, socially distanced seating, advance booking for track and trace purposes, wearing face coverings, and no staying behind for mulled wine and mince pies after the service!
Something we will almost certainly have to do in the run up to Christmas is to undertake still more risk assessments. I don't know about you, but it seems that our life these days involves one risk assessment after another! We have to do our own personal risk assessment, if we are meeting others. And those hosting any gatherings- including churches - also have to undertake risk assessments, to ensure that they are doing everything possible to keep people safe on their premises. However. while risk can be managed and reduced, it can never be totally eliminated. Irrespective of the threat of Covid-19, life is always a risky business.
Risk lies at the heart of the Christmas story, doesn't it? For example, think of the risks taken by Mary and Joseph in response to God's call, including the risky journey they made to Bethlehem just before Jesus was born. Or again, there was the long and made by the Magi, as they followed the light of star to worship the infant Christ. What sort of risk assessment would any of them have undertaken? Yet behind and beyond these risks, there is surely the greatest risk of all.
The incredible risk that God chose to take, in sending His Son to be born as one of us. Christmas proclaims that because of His love for this world, God gave His only Son to share our frail and fleeting life. Jesus came to lead us from darkness to light, from despair to hope, and finally from death to life. As we look to Jesus, and put our trust in Him, so we receive the comfort and joy only God can give.
Wherever we are, and whatever Christmas turns out to be like this year, even in those seasonal risk assessments, may we know that abiding comfort and joy in our hearts and homes.
Wishing you Christ's peace and joy, His light and love, this Christmastime and always,