Do not be afraid!
It is Christmas time again and, even as I write, dates are already fixed for
Carol Services and Christingles etc. The shops are full of all the glitter
and tinsel they think we need to celebrate Christmas. Meanwhile the country
is in something of a depressed state as it considers the effect of cuts in
benefits and Council expenditure, the so called efficiency savings (euphanism
for job losses as we all know) and companies going to the wall, unable to
withstand one more economic squeeze. It is sobering to consider that the UK
stands third in having the worst equality imbalance of any nation in the
world. That is the gap between the richest and the poorest people. Who wants
Christmas at such a time?
Will we spend what we can?t afford in order to forget the problems? Or will
we turn our back on it all? Or perhaps, just perhaps, this will be the time
that we pay more attention to the story in the centre of this season: the
story that the world seems so anxious to ignore. The story of a young girl,
perhaps fourteen or fifteen years of age, finding herself pregnant and
having to explain to her fianc?, no doubt expecting banishment or worse.
The story of a man risking disgrace and shame but being prepared to risk all
because he loved this girl. The couple having to find shelter and the
youngster giving birth to her first child in a stable with apparently no
family around to support her. Just perhaps this year the world will not
overlook this story but will find in it courage and love and a sense of what
is really important, what is really of value at Christmas time. That is,
family love, being together, and finding our peace in what we have and not
in what we desire.
The birth of Jesus took place in Bethlehem in a less than ideal situation.
He entered into the lives of people oppressed by an occupying power and
whose daily experience of life was often harsh and cruel. Throughout his
life Jesus often began conversations with people who had lost hope with the
words ?Do not be afraid?. He came in the name of God not to intimidate but
to set free. He came so that people could discover peace within themselves
and have peace between themselves, with God and with the whole of creation.
In the yearnings of our hearts we are a people searching for something we
have not yet found. We will not find it in the glitter and extravagance of
Christmas, for what we are looking for is life, ultimately life in its
fullness with God. Life comes when we know we are loved and we are able to
love. We are made for love.
Churches Together Christingle on Sunday 12th December at 4.00 pm
Carol Services are held in all churches. Look for notices.
The Civic carol service will be held at St James on Thursday 23rd December.
You are always welcome.
R W Bright. Chairman of Churches Together. ?The views expressed here do not
necessarily express the views of all members of Churches Together.?