IT HAS been such a difficult year for all of us due to the pandemic.

Some of us have unfortunately contracted covid-19.

Many of us have had to shied due to underlying health problems and suffered loneliness because of it.

Many of us have lost loved ones and not been able to be at their bedside and hold their hand when the moment came, or indeed have the funeral and send-off we would have wanted for them.

Many of us have been put on furlough or lost our jobs.

All of us have suffered in some way, some more than others.

We are left grieving and wondering when it will all end?

Can we place our hope in the forthcoming vaccine? Is it safe? Will we have it?

As someone who regularly has the flu vaccine, I am happy to accept it.

But how long will it last? Will the virus only mutate again?

We and the rest of the world hold our breath as we wait.

Many of us are asking where is God in all this?

I believe in a God of love who grieves when we grieve and who feels our pain.

A God who sees each tear and wants to comfort us.

A God who is ever present with us in the difficult times, as well as the good.

The Bible (Rev 21) talks about a time when God will once again dwell with us, a time when he will wipe away the tears from our eyes, when there will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain.

But until then we wait.

The season of Advent is upon us.

It is a time of waiting. A waiting for the coming messiah and the birth of Jesus.

This season of the church calendar is a time when Christians reflect on the coming birth of Jesus and the hope that he offers.

We reflect on that hope, but it is a hope that is already here. Jesus is already here.

My hope is that you will join us in reflecting upon and accepting the hope of Jesus who waits for you with open arms.