Tonight took a strange turn.
I was at church in Belfast welcoming in the chosen day with friends, acquaintances and strangers. Playing guitar in the band, feeling a bit fed up but for not much of a reason at all, certainly none of the above. It was a good time. A merry time.
That got me thinking.
What is merry? Merry Christmas. The phrase doesn’t sit well with me and I never say it. I don’t know why. Maybe my parents never do and that’s why. Happy Christmas feels right to me, we’re happy. We have a saviour. We have hope, we have Christmas.
As I drove through The Square there were ten people huddling under awnings waiting for taxis, taking a smoke, whatever they were doing. I thought what is merry? Is merry happy or is merry drunk? Is merry joy, or is it forgetting?
What’s that in the road? Is that a plastic bag? Why is that lady stopped there?
It wasn’t a plastic bag. It was a man. In a crumpled heap in the road. Some poor lad, not too old, not too young; out with friends, let walk home on his own, had stumbled onto the road and fallen. Thankfully the lady coming onward had recognised clothing and not a plastic bag.
Something precious was on the road. I wonder does he know that.
He’s precious. To his mother; to that woman that nearly didn’t stop, to the onlookers; to the tired and weary ambulance medic; to his friend who stood by him and eventually shepherded him home. To me, I suppose. Waiting for a professional to take over.
Merry isn’t wine. Not wine that’s all over The Street now, anyhow.
Merry is a joy that comes through hope. It’s more than celebration—it’s life giving.
I think I learnt something tonight. I’m not yet sure what it is. But… I know I can wish you a Merry Christmas. And if I can share some of that merry with you, I’d like to. But please, don’t start the conversation with your face on the tarmac.
Merry Christmas, everyone.