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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.?





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Page Updated  08 Jul 2011