Well, how was 2014 for you? I hope it was good, but I guess for most of us it was mixed.
And for many, it will have been downright miserable.
I think of the families involved in the dustbin lorry accident in Glasgow, in lost aircraft, in the midst of the Ebola crisis, just to name a few.
And yet, there were such good things in 2014. I, for one, was moved over and over again by the sensitivity with which we remembered the events at the start of the First World War.
We didn’t celebrate, nor did we glorify war in any way; we just remembered, and taught ourselves again about the inestimable damage caused by war.
And even in the midst of all that, there were good memories.
I know about the football in No Man’s Land; but let’s not forget that those soldiers were drawn together because one side heard the other singing the Christian carol ‘Silent Night’, and both sides recognised it.
‘Silent Night’ is a translation of the German ‘Stille Nacht’, and both sides shared the Christian heritage and faith.
For those soldiers on both sides, Christmas really did mean peace on earth, goodwill to all people, even if their duty to their principles and country meant that the lull lasted just the one day.
If the Christmas story carries a message for all of us, it’s one of hope.
Into this world where there is so much misery, there is still hope that things can be better, that the world might be a fairer place to live in; there is still hope that God’s love for all of us will draw us together, not split us apart; there is still hope that 2015 will see less war, and more peace in our world and in our own hearts.
May 2015 be a year in which we know God with us, in Jesus Christ.