Since I was a little girl, I have loved reading.
Even now, one of the most successful ways for me to relax after a very busy day is to spend some time reading a well-written novel with an exciting plot whose characters interest me.
The best books stimulate our imaginations and make us eager to learn more or to discover what happens in the story. The same is true of good film.
For those of us who like reading, it is wonderful to discover a film or book we have particularly enjoyed is part of a series, so we can look forward with a great sense of expectation to getting to know how the characters continue to develop.
Now we are well into January, Christmas is well and truly over – the last decorations have just come down and the festivities are over.
But, although the festive food has been eaten and the parties have finished, there is part of Christmas which is never over.
For the story of Jesus being born in Bethlehem is still true and still important for us, whatever the time of year.
Many people very much enjoy watching nativity plays and love hearing the story of the little baby being born and visited by the shepherds.
But many people also never really think about the later story of Jesus and sort of leave him lying in the manger.
They enjoy the story of his birth but fail to understand just why his birth really is such good news for us all.
It’s on or near January 6 that many people around the world remember the visit of the wise men from the east, who came to young Jesus, and their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
This celebration focuses on God’s revelation of Jesus as King to people who weren’t Jewish and were from another country, helping us realise that Jesus really is good news for everyone.
Then, during coming months, we will be thinking about Jesus’ ministry and his eventual journey to the cross and then about his amazing resurrection from the dead, which gives us such hope.
So the account of Jesus’ birth is actually just the beginning of the wonderful history of his time on earth – a story which can grip our attention and imaginations as we read it or hear it and think about what it tells us about God’s love for us all.
It’s not easy to put down a great detective story.
If we make time to explore and think about the Gospel stories about Jesus, they also will captivate us and help us understand that Jesus’ whole life among us really is the sort of good news which offers us forgiveness, peace, comfort, hope – and can help us cope with even very difficult or hard times.