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Dear Friends ...

As I write the papers are saying ‘Christmas is cancelled this year’. What a dreadful thought! And now the recent lockdown makes us worry who can be in our bubble or whether we are going to spend Christmas alone.

Of course, the real Christmas is never cancelled and that is a great relief for the whole world. Like many ministers I am at home this year, shut in my study answering emails, doing Zoom meetings and making phone calls. It’s a very different type of ministry we are engaged in. We need to remember Christ’s coming more this year maybe than at any other time.

Friends have said they cannot wait to put up decorations: the sparkle and ribbons, the lights piercing the darkness of a December afternoon, the hope of presents and a great big tree all lit up. In truth, this year we really need Jesus. We need the Lord to give us hope where we have lost it.

It always seems amazing to me that God should choose a helpless baby to pierce the darkness of the Roman empire and the hardness of humanity’s hearts. But God did. A baby who has come for over 2,019 years and will come to us again this year – despite a pandemic. We may choose the tinsel and sparkle of Christmas, but Christ chooses our hearts.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12

As we approach Advent and Christmas, we know that this year we are living in challenging times. We may not be able to sing of love coming down at Christmas in our churches, we may not be able to be with family and friends and the brokenness of the world continues. Yet Jesus, the Christ-child, the Light of the world, will still come to us. Christ is still the source of our hope and joy. Nothing can stop our Lord coming to meet us where we are.

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Luke 2:10

Christ is a never-ending source of love, light and wellbeing. Not only are we the cracked clay pots in which Jesus places the light of the world, we are the vessels God uses to spill out the light of love into the world. Full of this light we know we don’t have to be afraid of the future. For God is with us. With us in pandemics, injustice, bereavement, pain and fear. Christ is never cancelled from our lives. All we have to do is shine.

I wish you and your families, a very blessed Christmas.

Moderator, URC Southern Synod

[From The Record, December 2020]

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