Today is Christmas Eve Eve: the night before the night before Christmas.

Husbands who are more organised than most will use today to buy their wives a Christmas present, rather than relying on the last minute rush tomorrow.

Children are looking forward to Christmas, but can’t ramp up the excitement to Christmas Eve levels because it’s very difficult to sustain it for too long.

Television schedulers want to put programmes and films on that are Christmassy, but they will save the best until Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

It’s not a particularly special day, is it? It’s something of an anticlimax before the main event (if that is possible).

I wonder if you feel like 23rd December. Expectations, hopes and dreams for 2015 have not been realised yet. You’ve been waiting for life to improve, and so far things have not got better. You are anticipating that the good times are just around the corner, but the corner doesn’t seem to get any closer. It’s always Christmas Eve Eve.

Or maybe that’s not you, but I am sure you know people who feel that way.

I can’t promise you that I know when (or even if) things will improve. But the experience of Christians through two millennia is that Jesus is with us as much in disappointment, unfulfilled ambitions and dark times as he is in celebrations, achievements and the brightest moments. Perhaps (if possible) moreso.

He promised his friends and followers (and we can be both) that he would give them his Spirit as a ‘paraclete’ (that’s the English version of a Greek word). There are many nuances to that word – it is someone on whom you lean for strength and support as you limp along; it is someone who offers you wise words and guidance; it is someone who comforts and uplifts; it is someone who speaks up for you (and advocate); it is an encourager.

If you want to see what that looks like, he is as Jesus was with the poor, downtrodden, oppressed, ignored, forgotten, unhappy, struggling people of his day. And because he is with all believers in the same way, he can also inspire people to do those things and be those things too.

You can see it in action in this YouTube clip of Derek Redmond at the Barcelona Olympics. The other person is his Dad.

For whom can you be a paraclete this Christmas Eve Eve?

Be blessed, be a blessing

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