In the days of Prime Minister Boris, a decree was issued that all should receive a booster jab. And everyone, well, almost everyone, went to their nearest vaccine centre to register.

The queues became long as supplies ran out and fear took hold. Suddenly an angel appeared and said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people – today in a lab, a solution to Covid has been found.”

And when they heard the news, the people rejoiced and rushed to see this thing that had happened. When they saw what they thought would save them, they bowed down and worshipped and opened their treasures and bank accounts and presented their most precious gifts.

It’s the Christmas story, but definitely not as we know it.

This year was going be different. Tesco’s ad went with the strapline This Christmas, nothing’s stopping us” to the soundtrack of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now’. Sainsbury’s followed a similar theme with A Christmas to savour” following last Christmas not being quite as expected”.

Omicron looks to have put a stop to all that. As troubling as the virus itself, is who to trust in this moment. There are questions about Christmas parties and quizzes at the heart of government, and the Downing Street refurbishment story just won’t go away. The prime minister is described as having a difficult relationship with the truth. One former minister put it like this, The PM treats facts like he treats all his relationships – utterly disposable once inconvenient.” Truth matters, especially at a moment like this, when people aren’t sure who to trust. 

Even the birth of a baby might not save the PM – but I’m mixing up my Christmas stories again.

The disillusionment of this moment is real. The anxiety is tangible. The fear is palpable. And yet imagine the sheer delight if Covid was over – the virus destroyed, gone, defeated. Imagine the release from fear and anxiety, and the hope of a new and abundant life.

Christmas is all that and more. It is the moment when the God of the universe gave up everything to rescue us. The Word became flesh, the divine in a skin. Do not fear, the angels proclaimed, they had good news – the best world-changing news ever delivered – the birth of a baby who would change the world.

This news was not universally welcomed – Herod was furious, and most were oblivious to this moment – the very pivot on which the cosmos turns. Years later Pilate would cross examine Jesus before becoming infuriated and asking, What is truth?” It turns out that politicians who don’t understand truth are not new.

I am not trying to upset your Christmas. But Christmas was destined to upset the way things were. A young unmarried girl became pregnant. God became human. Political rulers got angry. Religious leaders were struck dumb. Foreigners were on the move, babies were killed and Jesus’ family became refugees. Even the first Christmas wasn’t the way it was supposed to be.

My colleague says he longs to see a hope epidemic”, or perhaps we should launch a joy booster programme. No-one can cancel Christmas. No-one can stop us being merchants of holy hope. No-one can prevent us from being carriers of uncontainable, irrepressible joy. No-one can stop us from coming to worship the Prince of Peace.

This year, Christmas will be different, but the message remains the same – fear not, Hope is here.

Imagine the sheer delight if Covid was over... imagine the release from fear and anxiety, and the hope of a new and abundant life. Christmas is all that and more.