For many people, adults and children alike, the Christmas/New Year celebrations are not complete without a visit to the theatre.
Ballet is popular, and so is pantomime. Here in Eastbourne we are privileged to have both on a regular basis.
Swan Lake and The Nutcracker are perennial favourites; Cinderella, Snow White and Aladdin pack them in every year-end. Oh yes they do! And Robin Hood will be arriving here very soon.
Way back, I wrote and produced several pantomimes for a youth club in the town. The cast tried to build an atmosphere of excitement, suspense and thrill, all within the confines of a few square yards in a village hall. We managed, and the audiences were great.
The memory of boys and girls chanting ‘He’s behind you!’ when the baddie appeared on the stage still returns very so often. Even hardened dads joined in, I recall.
Now the audience participation has taken on a different meaning for me. ‘He’s behind you’ is not too far removed from something I read in the Old Testament psalms.
Addressing God, who always has the individual’s good at heart, the writer said, ‘You are behind me and before, and place your hand of blessing upon me’ (Psalm 139, 5).
I also want to understand the truth of the Lord’s presence with me wherever I go, in everything I do.
And I believe this is the best seasonal wish I can pass on to you.
At Christmas, then, and throughout 2012, may you have the assurance that God is always close, surrounding you with his love and grace.