As we recently gathered on Remembrance Sunday to honour all those who gave of their lives and suffered as a result of past wars, we looked to the past. We remembered especially those who died at the Somme in this the centenary year of the battle. This act of remembering drew us to a realisation of the present, of how many are still suffering today because of conflict and unrest. But then we looked again to words from the past, words that are a part of our present and give us hope for the future. In the Book of Isaiah chapter 9, verses 5-7 we read these wonderful words;
‘A child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.’
This Christmas as we look at the sparkle of the beautiful trees in our Christmas Tree Festival, we will be encouraged to consider ‘The Spirit of Christmas’. As we reflect upon what Christmas is really all about, I encourage us all to consider past, present and future. There will be some in our community who may be grieving the loss of loved ones, whose memories of Christmas are not always happy ones. There will be some in our community for whom the present may be difficult, perhaps because of financial worries, who find themselves alone, or who are living in difficult domestic situations.
But for us as a Church family, the Spirit of Christmas is about helping the people around us to have hope for the future. It’s about offering practical support, it’s about prayer, it’s about telling and witnessing to the message of love and hope of the Prince of Peace, born in a lowly stable that we may know God’s presence in the world. That is the best present we can offer our fellow brothers and sisters.
In the new year we will have the opportunity to discern where God is leading us in 2017, how he hopes to guide and inform our future so that we can truly witness his love to one another and those of our community and the wider world. What a tremendous gift that is!
And so I pray that this Christmas we will all know the joy of the Christ child. May we know peace and love, and as we remember his birth, may we all feel ‘The True Spirit of Christmas’ in our hearts, not just at Christmas, but in the future days that are yet to come.
On behalf of myself, Mark, Rebecca, Alasdair, Chris, Ellie, Connor and Leana,
May we wish you all every Christmas blessing,