This will be a Christmas like no other – especially for those who find themselves alone, or struggling financially for the first time.
After many challenges brought to us by the Covid-19 pandemic, churches from across Dundee have shared their Christmas messages to give people solace, inspiration and hope for the year to come.
Tori Mackinnon, pastor at Mosaic Church
Christmas has always been my favourite time of year, although my answer over the years has changed from it being because of Santa and presents to learning a deeper meaning.
This time of year has always just felt a little bit lighter.
I think many people would agree that at this time of year there seems to be a little more hope to go around and the burdens feel a little bit smaller.
However, I am not naïve.
That is not everyone’s story every year, that has not been my story every year, and that will not be everyone’s story this Christmas.
It is not that hope and joy are not around us, but this year they do seem much harder to find and still even harder to hold on to.
But let me tell you, whatever your story is, whatever situation you find yourself in, the reason that we celebrate Christmas still stands true – Jesus has come into the deepest, darkest, hardest parts of our world to bring hope and joy into every situation.
The real truth is that although it may be harder to find hope in our world this Christmas we are gaining a better understanding of what Christmas is about, anticipating the birth of Christ, anticipating the hope and the joy that He brings into a very broken world.
Rev Jonathan Humphrey, Chalmers Ardler Parish Church
This has been a year like no other with all our lives turned upside down and so much of what we took for granted gone, or put on hold for better times.
One of the songs we have been listening to this Christmas at Chalmers Ardler Church is ‘Hope has a name – Emmanuel’.
Emmanuel means God with us, one of the names that Jesus, God’s son, is called in the Bible.
Hope is a real person, the same yesterday, today and forever.
This is something to hold on to, to live in and to live out.
During the first lockdown, when our building was closed, we took church to the ‘gate’, and in partnership with Dundee Bairns handed out and delivered more than 5,000 lunches to needy families.
Now we have set up the Chalmers Ardler community food larder which is open to all, each week from midday to 2pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and with over 80 members.
Our aim is to do what we can, to demonstrate the hope that we have in Jesus.
Come and see us!
And from all of us at Chalmers Ardler, we wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and a hope-filled year to come.
Rev Dr Robert Calvert, The Steeple Church
Last month I was disappointed not to be standing with the lord provost and Santa Claus in the City Square.
I missed seeing the crowds at the turning on of the Christmas lights.
Normally we put on a Dundee Nativity at the Steeple but this was not possible this year and instead it was done on YouTube.
Covid-19 has reduced Christmas to smaller gatherings.
Strangely, it might make it easier for us to get in touch with the first Christmas.
The birth of Jesus Christ came about because of another invisible but different kind of virus.
The big ‘C’ is not for Covid-19 coronavirus, but for Christ.
He brings healing and hope.
More than a vaccination, he is the start of a new life.
The spirit of Jesus within is better than taking any drug or substance.
All this talk of cancelling Christmas isn’t possible.
Mother Teresa said: “It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you.
“Yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand.”
I wish all of you in Dundee and across Tayside a safe and joyous season.
Alan Philip, moderator of Dundee Presbytery and elder at Barnhill St Margaret’s Church
Advent – the waiting, anticipation and preparation for Christmas – is a time that can be enjoyed both by people of faith and those with none.
Whether it’s reading and hearing the biblical narrative anticipating the birth of Jesus or the excitement each morning of youngsters opening a fresh door of their Advert calendar, the joy is something we can all share.
On Christmas Day, we remember the actual birth in very humble circumstances of Jesus Christ.
As he loves us, we should love each other.
Whether that love shows as presents to relatives and friends or as a cheery chat with a lonely neighbour, it’s great to share that feeling of loving and being loved.
This year I will miss the larger gatherings and meals with family, friends, and neighbours.
I miss the joy and fun of school Nativity plays, the CLIC Sargent nurses’ carol concert and the Choral Union event at the Caird Hall.
This year, we especially appreciate the love in action shown by those working in health service, social care, essential transport, shops and utilities.
For ourselves, let’s all concentrate on the message of love and express it to our friends and neighbours as best we can.
Rev Canon Kerry Dixon, minister at St Luke’s Parish Church
While a voice on the radio reminds us that “This is a Christmas like no other”, this is equally true of the very first Christmas.
While most of us have long been familiar with the story of Mary, the teenage mother who gave birth to her child Jesus in the poverty of a cold dark stable, I suspect that this year many more of us will be able to personally identify with Mary’s feelings of vulnerability and her anxiety for her newborn son.
As this pandemic year has continued onwards, the things that we tend to rely upon to mitigate against the vulnerabilities of life – job security, education, money, food in the supermarkets, readily available healthcare and the closeness of family and friends – have been stripped away, laying bare our own true vulnerability.
And yet I wonder whether it is this increased awareness of our own vulnerability that will save us?
Despite the hardships that we have faced this year – as individuals and as communities – I have noticed that we are also taking stock of what really matters.
In the middle of their own difficulties many people have also been inspired to great acts of kindness and generosity – donating food and clothing, working in difficult and often dangerous environments, volunteering and reaching out to isolated members of their local communities.
And I am reminded that God chose to save the world through the baby Jesus, who remained vulnerable throughout his life and was eventually put to death at the hands of the Roman Empire.
So this Christmas – a Christmas like no other – I pray that you might experience the love that made itself vulnerable by being born in a stable.
Craig Stocks, leader of Dundee City Church
Christmas is about relationships.
In a year when we have been socially isolated, it has been really tough to look at a Christmas “without” – without mums, without dads, without friends, without grannies or grandpas or that special person you haven’t seen for ages and still can’t see.
City Church is the church family that meets at The Friary in Dundee – we have had a tough year as well.
Much of the time we have also been separated from each other and we have been rocked by bereavements of some of our dearest members before their time.
Christmas is about relationships.
For us, in this year above all, we have known huge comfort from the relationship we have with each other, relationships formed because we have discovered that God loves us all the same.
Mary giving birth to Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, is the most wonderful story.
The bond of love between mother and baby son is as strong as it can be.
Jesus’s birth is about relationship.
This Christmas it’s not about what you know, but who you know.
Love those you can and have a very happy Christmas.