Oh no ... Omicron! Just when we were hoping it was all over, suddenly we're back in face masks and scientists seem to be saying that the new variant might make the Wuhan version look like the proverbial pussycat. Or it might be a lot of fuss about nothing. It's too early as yet to tell.
Predictably, this has not inspired confidence on the part of the general public, with opinion continuing to be divided over what to do, some leaping for the face masks and others protesting once again that it's all just part of a global plot on the part of 'them' to impose control. Yet in the face of all this, Her Majesty's Government has remained upbeat, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid blithely assuring us there is absolutely no need to cancel Christmas party plans.
There is every sign this is a conundrum that will not be easily resolved, though the most recent news from South Africa, with rising hospital admissions, would seem not to bode well. Yet perhaps the real question Christians should be asking is not whether or not to get the vaccine and build a Covid-free bunker in the back garden, but what God might be saying in all of this? Is it, for example, really a coincidence that this latest threat should have emerged now, just as the nations are preparing to celebrate the birthday of Christ the King?
It is interesting that in these enlightened times, as we ostensibly prepare to remember the birth of our Saviour, annually the world sanctions the gratuitous killing of around 56 million unborn children. And Christmas these days, far from being an occasion for celebration and thanks to God as we pay homage for the gift of His Son, has become mainly the excuse for a knees-up, descending all too often into an orgy of self-gratification. At the same time, shops erupt in a veritable explosion of tinsel, the air reverberates with treacly renditions of 'We wish you a merry Christmas' ... and consumerist greed prevails.
Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas. I love getting together with family – and I love giving them silly presents, that, let's face it, are maybe pretty useless but are my way of saying, 'I thank God for you, and I love you.' And we know for a fact that Jesus himself was always up for a good party and that He too enjoyed the odd glass of wine – I bet the wedding feast at Cana was a real blast!
But the way we celebrate Christmas these days feels a bit like we're putting on a huge birthday party ... only we've forgotten to invite the guest of honour. Worse, He's not welcome, because we're too fixated on having what we call fun, while staging diverse and inclusive nativity plays, where the three gender-neutral monarchs arrive by space rocket, and Mary is referred to as the person who has given birth.
And the endless parties we hold and attend become just another excuse for a binge, with a hangover next morning and a loss of memory as to what we might, or might not, have done.
So in this Omicron dampener on Christmas, is it just possible God might be saying something to a world that has become lost in darkness, and where the only 'light' seems to come from flashing fairy lights that blind us to the greater light beyond? Is it possible indeed that the whole pandemic is a wake-up call, and that God is calling us to repent ahead of His imminent return, when it will all be simply too late?
Over the last half century, we have ended the lives of countless millions of unborn children, whose only offence – let's be blunt – was that they were 'unwanted'. In fact, from the time abortion first became 'legal' in the Soviet Union in the 1920s, up until now, global estimates for the number of terminations overall range from between one and three billion babies. Let us make no mistake, every one of these lives was formed by and inexpressibly precious to God. Every child had a destiny and, as with Abel, their blood cries out from the ground.
By our actions, we have rejected God, giving worship instead to the insatiable goat god of sexual licence and promiscuity, making a blood sacrifice of our unborn. And because of this 'worship', evil has grown inexpressibly strong.
There is without doubt a battle now raging in the heavens, and here on earth we are reaping the fruit of our choices – but God remains sovereign. He will return – maybe very soon – yet for now He stands ready to help. He will not do so, however, unless we first turn back to Him and repent.
So the question remains – how will you celebrate Christmas this year?