So it’s the time of year, when rehearsals seem to be happening. We are getting close to the big finale, and everyone’s ready getting costumes done, practicing their lines, their songs or their final paperwork so that they can relax at Christmas. It’s no different in church, when we are preparing for services. While it can be great fun, we often see this time as the boring bit that we have to do, so we can enjoy the big event. We say Life is not a rehearsal, as if rehearsals were not that great. But I think sometimes they are the best bit. I’ve just joined a choir, and I think often we sing better when we are in rehearsals as everyone’s just enjoying themselves, and not worrying about how it sounds at all!

When I used to go out partying alot at university, the bit when we got ready together, and shared a bottle of wine at home was often far more fun than the main event, or even a normal night in. I love seeing the dancers on Strictly practicing, as it shows the time, energy and commitment that go into the final performance, and it’s often in rehearsal that the winning partnerships are formed and shaped.

I think our lives are a bit like rehearsals. Certainly I think its not helpful to think we have to get everything right all the time. I was told once by a mentor at work, that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. If this isn’t the main event, why not experiment and see what happens, we are still rehearsing and new things or ideas might work better.

We’ve had a tragedy strike in our community, when a member of the local school team died recently aged 38. It feels so unfair, like she didn’t make it as far as Blackpool, and in Strictly come Dancing terms, she was good enough to get to the final. Losing a loved one at this time of year can be particularly difficult, when it’s supposed to be all about having fun, and ‘good tidings’.

For me as a christian I am certain that this life isn’t the end, this isn’t the full picture,  and the mess we see around us, is not of God, it’s just where we are now. We mess up, because we are still practicing, saying our lines wrong, tripping up, wearing the wrong costume and forgetting to bring the donkey in stage left. There is evil around us, and it’s not always possible to navigate around it.

I don’t know exactly what happens we die, but I think our existence changes, and becomes something entirely different. The only thing that I do know for sure about what that looks like, is that God’s love is involved both now and after our deaths. He loves us so much, it’s hard to explain but I think it’s along the lines of a song by Adele…  ‘the winds of change are blowing wild and free, but you ain’t seen nothing like me yet’. He longs for us to accept him into our lives. He so wants us to know his love that he will go to great lengths to make that happen.

We can sometimes miss his love if we are too focused on being perfect, having everything ready, and being faultless, because lets face it, that’s impossible to achieve however hard we try!

So this Christmas my prayer is that we all get to keep it real, give hugs to the people we love, and take care of those around us who need our help. I pray that we continue to rehearse being heavenly,  we don’t give up getting it wrong, and like the Innkeeper, we  are not afraid to say yes to Jesus coming into our lives, however small a space we have to offer him right now. I know from my own and others experience, that he will be delighted to accept your hospitality just as it is, and happy to forgive anything we get wrong.

In this cold, miserable weather, long nights and short, busy days in the UK, this song ‘Make you Feel my Love’ by Adele really speaks to me of how God sees us and my Christmas wish is that we all get to feel God’s Love this Christmas.

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