Filed: Wednesday, 24th December 2008
By: Elwin Cockett
Whether we worked for Woolies, lent to Lehmans', or were banking on a bonus,
for most of us 2008 was not a year to celebrate, Olympics apart.
For West Ham United fans, a whole range of factors has conspired against our
happiness, from the ongoing Tevez case to the rumours about our owners'
finances and the constant need for more goals. All-in-all, we could be
forgiven for feeling very unseasonal and showing a distinct lack of good
cheer as the nation-wide mood of gloom envelops us.
That, I want to suggest, is just why we need Christmas more than ever. I
have always felt sorry for our Australian cousins who celebrate Christmas in
the middle of Summer, perhaps with a barbie on the beach, or a few cold
beers as they bake in the sun. Because Christmas is about light in the
darkness, about hope when all seems hopeless, and about valuing the things
that really matter.
The nativity story continues to have deep meaning for many people because it
is an amazing story of God reaching down into our world, with all its mess
and pain, and becoming one of us. So Christians join with others in holding
on to the words of the prophet Isaiah, 'the people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light', and knowing that there is always hope.
That's not to say that our esteemed manager is our messiah, or that
salvation, in the shape of European football, is ours. But it is to say that
we all have much to be thankful for, much to celebrate, and much that we can
afford to be generous with.
As I write this, we lie one point above the relegation zone, and it is three
months since we last scored more than one goal in a game; both reasons to be
fearful, you might say. But we are also still a Premier League side, despite
everything that has been thrown at us, and we have a manager with a smile on
his face and a team who continue to play good football. A glance down the
tables shows a good few clubs whose fans would give anything to be in our
I had the privilege of visiting Richard House this year, and seeing just
what amazing work they do with children and their families at times of need.
That West Ham fans continue to support this work makes me proud. To bring
light into darkness and joy into sadness is a great thing. That we could do
more, I am sure.
Everyone reading this has much to be thankful for this Christmas. Compared
to most people in the world, we are rich and comfortable. And, whatever the
challenges we face, there are others who could do with our help and support.
So, fellow West Ham fans, if Christmas means anything at all to you, may it
be that you bring light and joy and hope to others, whatever the personal
challenges you face in your own life. Oh, and may it bring six points, too.
Club Chaplain, WHUFC