HERE we are again in the Season of Advent looking forward to the birth of Jesus.

But you hear people say.." I hate Christmas!", "I'll be glad when it's all over" "let's get back to normal", "Are you ready, have you done all your Christmas shopping yet?".

Most of us will be looking forward to a few days off work, getting together with family, buying that special present for a loved one, and having a drink. Christians will especially want to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

I wonder what Jesus would think if he "dropped in" during Advent to witness how much trouble we were going to, and saw the amount of pressure placed on people to spend as much as possible to boost the profits on the High Street.

Jesus, after all was the King of "upside down" values and always stressed the importance of looking after the hungry, thirsty, homeless, sick and lonely, as well as welcoming the stranger.

Surely he would welcome anything that would come under the heading of "Peace and Goodwill"

I greatly admire those people who give more to charity at Christmas time than they spend on presents, including families where they agree to forego expensive gifts to increase their charitable giving. What a great idea!

Anyway for all those people already feeling the strain of Christmas in the High Street, just remember the words of Jesus in Matthew's Gospel: "Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest", ... for my yoke is easy and my burden is light".

Have a lovely joyous Christmas and don't forget to go to a Carol Service.

David Allison

Local Methodist Preacher.