It feels like there’s been a lot of surprises this year.
Whatever your views on Brexit, I seem to remember that for a long time ‘Remain’ was apparently the most likely outcome.
Then, over the pond, Donald Trump has surprised almost everyone with his victories for the Republican nomination and then the presidential election itself.
It leaves me wondering, what’s next?
The future feels as unpredictable as it’s been in a long time.
At least with Christmas approaching, there’s a reassuring familiarity to the sights and sounds, the smells, the tastes and the endless jingles.
If you celebrate Christmas, you probably have your own traditions and festivities.
That familiarity can be quite reassuring when other events insist on springing surprises.
But maybe Christmas is also a time for surprises.
Not just the unexpected gifts, or that this year the sprouts don’t taste so bad, or even that grandad stayed awake long enough to hear the Queen’s speech.
What if the events of the first Christmas are more surprising than we might think?
As if the account of angels appearing isn’t surprising enough, isn’t it even more surprising that their message wasn’t to kings or priests, but to a small bunch of shepherds?
But perhaps the greatest surprise isn’t in the detail of what happened, but the idea that it really did happen.
Because, if the story is true, God might just have a surprise in store for you too this Christmas.
It would mean that God really did love the world so much that he was born as a saviour in a stable.
It would mean that God can have a plan for you and has made a way for you to know him.
If you get the chance, why not join one of the churches in town and see whether God has a surprise in store?
For a lot of people, I imagine it’s surprising that anyone still believes the Christmas story at all.
That’s the challenge to those of us who do.
To demonstrate how that baby, born in a manger, has changed our lives forever.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas, full of familiar festive fun and a few nice surprises.
Most of all, may you come to see that in Jesus we really do have Emmanuel, God with us – the greatest surprise of all.
Littlehampton Churches Together– details of Christmas services:
• All Saints – Church of England – Wick Street: Christmas Eve, 4pm, Crib Service; Christmas Day, 10am, Family Service.
• Arun Community Church – Littlehampton Academy, Fitzalan Road: Christmas Day, 10.30am to 11.30am, Christmas Day Service.
• Baptist Church – Fitzalan Road: Christmas Day, 10am, Family Celebration.
• Parkside Evangelical Church – St Flora’s Road: Christmas Day, 10.30am, Christmas Day Service.
• St Catherine’s – Roman Catholic – Beach Road: Christmas Eve, 5pm, Family Vigil Mass, and 10pm, Night Mass; Christmas Day, 11am, Christmas Morning Mass.
• St James – Church of England – East Ham Road: Christmas Eve, 3pm, Crib Service; Christmas Day, 10am, Parish Mass.
• St Joseph’s Convent – Roman Catholic – East Street: Christmas Eve, 8.30pm, Carols, and 9pm, Christmas Mass; Christmas Day, 10.30am, Christmas Morning Mass.
• St Mary’s – Church of England – Church Street: Christmas Eve, 5pm, Crib Service, and 11.30pm, Midnight Mass of Christmas; Christmas Day, 8am, Eucharist, and 10am, Parish Eucharist.
• St Mary Magdalene’s – Church of England – Lyminster: Christmas Eve, 4pm, Crib Service, 11.10pm, Carols, and 11.30pm, Midnight Communion; Christmas Day, 11am, Christmas Morning Service.
• Society of Friends – Quakers – Church Street: December 25, 9.30am to 10am, Meeting for Worship.
• Littlehampton United Church – Methodist & URC – High Street: Christmas Eve, 11.30pm, Midnight Communion Service; Christmas Day, 10.30am, Family Christmas Celebration.
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