December/January 2020 Newsletter

A peaceful Christmas and a healthy New Year to you all 

Thought for the month – Provided by Jacqui Witting- Congregational Worship Leader 

Looking through the internet for inspiration for this Thought for the month, I came across an article by the Bishop of Dudley. It was in fact his Christmas message for 2018 but his comments are still relevant to this year, that I make no apologies in reproducing part of his message. 

He speaks of how it was a real treat to be in Bethlehem when the Christmas tree lights were turned on – it was a joyous moment but his joy was tempered by the knowledge that around much of Bethlehem is a huge wall. For Palestinians it is a separation wall preventing them from travelling to their olive groves, or into Jerusalem, without a permit. For Israelis it is a security wall that prevents terrorist attacks. 

As with walls in many places, it is a living symbol of division. Think of the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall and of course President Trump’s wall on the Mexico border. Whilst providing some security, walls perpetuates fear and hatred. 

In other places there are those non-physical walls that divide communities. Across Europe there are huge inequalities of health, employment, and educational attainment, with many people struggling financially this Christmas. 

Our current political debates also put up barriers between those who voted in different ways. Our country needs, more than ever, to seek grace and generosity in our political conversation so that there are not winners and losers, just the flourishing of all. 

Those who visited Jesus represented the diversity of society. Mary and Joseph were temporarily homeless and were offered a smelly stable round the back of an inn. The shepherds were regarded as being religiously unclean but they were given priority boarding. The Magi travelled from a distant land carrying their mysterious gifts. Angels sang in praise and joy.” 

Jesus, both in the crib, and throughout his ministry, brought people together under a vision of a future lived as God would have us be. He is the light of the world. His light can never be divided. It’s always breaking through the cracks of our walls and barriers, bringing hope.”  

As we move into 2020, let us hope that the world will become a more peaceful and compassionate place. There are so many parts of the world that need re-building after years of conflict not to mention the healing of mental trauma. We see a growing number of people who need our support because they are sleeping rough and relying on food banks to feed their families. May we develop more tolerance to people with different views and ideology and conduct our debates without rancour and aggressive language. 

The Bishop of Dudley concluded his message by saying “Jesus, both in the crib, and throughout his ministry, brought people together under a vision of a future lived as God would have us be. He is the light of the world. His light can never be divided. It’s always breaking through the cracks of our walls and barriers, bringing hope.” 

Let us share that hope and do our bit to bring about real change. I wish all the members of St Michael’s in the Gard, their families and friends a Peaceful and Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year full of hope. 

A peaceful Christmas and a healthy New Year to you all