Rector’s December thoughts

It is a strange thing writing any kind of article for publication; because, by necessity, it is written a good time before the actual piece is printed – in this case a good two weeks before December, and a month before Christmas itself. Being topical can therefore be a challenge. For instance, in my current world it is mid-November, and I am not really feeling very festive, yet somehow I have to write about it.

We have just marked Remembrance Sunday, All Saints and All Souls, which whilst dignified and important, for me they are among the most difficult services I perform – they form part of a season of sorrows, and I cannot be detached from it. Then of course, only a few days ago we had yet another example of people wishing to kill and murder in Paris, to bomb and destroy – hatred-fuelled destruction perpetrated by people perverting and abusing religion for their own aims, and to their shame.

This is a really important point. People perverting and abusing religion is exactly the same as people abusing and perverting money, people, power or position. It is shameful, and not anything to do with religion – rather, it is selfish, egotistical and reprehensible. I know of no religion that thinks this is the correct way to live your life. It is not Christian, nor is it Islamic.

Soon we celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world. The world He was born into was not less dangerous or evil – it seems humanity is quite good and persistent at perpetrating evil, especially against fellow human beings, and especially if they are weaker, or less important, or just less…… Jesus came from God to remind us that whilst the world is what it is, it does not have to be so. God felt so moved that he sent His son so that we might know God understands the sorrow of this world. God offers us hope through Jesus, Jesus the light among the darkness giving everybody salvation, especially those who are weaker, marginalised, persecuted; it is this that we celebrate at Christmas.

In the Gospel of John Chapter 1, right at the outset, the Gospel writer wants us to understand this and says ‘In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ (John 1, 4-5). This light is Jesus – just in case you were wondering.

The sadness of the events in Paris, in Beirut, in Turkey.………. is depressing. Perhaps it causes you to think: 1st what type of world are we living in? 2nd how can we make sense of it all? 3rd how can we celebrate Christmas in the light of all that has gone on? Answers: the world is broken – but it doesn’t have to be; second we cannot, it makes no sense – it is pure evil; and third – well, we have to, it’s what we do. Christians celebrate Christmas, and Christmas reminds us that even in a world full of darkness, hate and persecution, God broke into the darkness to show us the way to salvation. The light of Christ is really, really important, especially this Christmas. We celebrate the prince of Peace. Peace be with you all this Christmas.

Every Blessing