Chairs' Christmas Message 2018
The story of Christ’s birth powerfully engages our imaginations. Wise men make a long journey by the leading of a star. Shepherds praise God. Angels sing; and the glory of the Lord shines around. In a manger, and in great humility, lies the Christ child, born of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are reminded, then as now, that God enters into history to bring new life and hope, for it is easy to lose heart when we look upon our world. It seems that over the last year our society has become more and more cynical and hope for the future is dwindling.
Those who govern us have given rise for us to become more mistrustful of them as they continue to follow a Brexit that will mean so many in our communities, will suffer personally and economically. Already, thousands of people need to rely day to day, on foodbanks and pay-day lenders to survive. Some will not have anywhere to lay their head this Christmas, or will spend the holiday’s sofa surfing with friends due to benefit sanctions and the government’s failure to successfully roll out Universal Credit. Many are jobless. Many are in agony from illness. Many just cannot face another day like yesterday.
Is it any wonder that we are feeling exhausted and tired?
We have, undoubtedly, had a year of major twists and turns. Optimism has sat alongside despair. We have witnessed great personal and national losses and the lives of our communities and church have experienced great pain. But, in spite of all of this, we must also find comfort in the moments of joy, of jubilation and in the tremendous achievements that have illuminated much of 2018.
A number of years ago the Methodist Conference produced a report entitled: ‘Called to Love and Praise’. In it we are reminded that: “At the heart of this Gospel is the revelation that God, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, embraces the world, each member of the human race, and every living creature, with a love which not only creates, but re-creates and heals in the face of humankind’s tragic, self-centred fragmentation.”
As we approach this Holy Season, let us take time to reflect on our values, desires, affections and traditions; as well as on the boundless love of God that is symbolised by the birth of Christ.
Christmas represents a time for a new imagination. A time where the love of God is extended to each and every member of the human race, and is replicated like the ripple effect of a stone hitting water.
Let us this Christmas discern once again what it is to hear the gospel, the very words which enable individuals to become the people God created them to be.
Our prayer this Christmas, is that we will all long for a new spirit embracing new ideas, new generosity and a new gratitude for all that we have. That we will speak out against the injustices that face us each day within the communities that we live and work. Let us commit ourselves to dealing with the pain and suffering we see around our communities and the wider world, as well as standing up for what is just and fair for all our brothers and sisters.
Christmas is coming. Let us greet it with great joy, gladness and a new imagination.
May this Christmas sparkle with love, joy, revival and goodwill; the very essence of God’s presence.
Nigel and Jongi.