Christmas reflection: Worth the wait for more than presents

THERE is a lot of waiting about in the Christmas story. Mary waited nine months from the day that Gabriel announced she would give birth to a boy called Jesus.

Joseph waited at many innkeepers' doors, before one individual offered the warmth of a stable where Mary could lay her new born child.

The shepherds spent a lot of time waiting in the fields above Bethlehem, until one night when the dark sky was transformed by an angelic choir and "good news for all".

Even for those munching their way through the daily chocolates of an Advent calendar, there is still a lot of waiting, before opening that final door on December 25.

But the joy of Christmas is when it exceeds the expectations of our waiting; a time to show greater kindness to strangers, greater generosity to those who need us and a greater surprise that Christmas always means more than presents.

Christmas is God's surprise that this world contains more love, more care, more faith and more generosity than any of us dared hope for.

May your Christmas be a Christmas worth waiting for.

Stephen Forde

Dean-Elect, Belfast Cathedral