The season of Advent has been the shortest it could possibly be this year in as much as Advent Sunday began on 3rd December, three weeks and one day before Christmas Day. This has meant that we have had less time overall to fit all our preparations for Christmas into the diary.
During the course of the Advent season there have been lots of good things happening in and around the circuit; Advent study groups, fellowship meals, A Christmas Tree Festival, special services, as well as concerts and lots of other activities.
The message of Advent focuses on the coming of Jesus. The one who came as a helpless babe all those years ago, the one who comes into our present, our hearts and lives, our homes and families, our churches and communities, our nation and world. The one who will come again in all his glory when the world, as we know it, will be no more.
Jesus came, comes and will come again as Lord and Saviour of this world, and I’m sure that you will agree with me that this world needs a Saviour, needs Jesus now more than it has ever done.
Bethlehem, the town of Jesus’ birth has prepared very differently to celebrate Christmas this year. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, which can be found on the West Bank, has set up a very different nativity scene. Rather than the traditional crib scene showing Jesus all hunky dory in the manger, surrounded by animals in a stable, the scene shows the baby Jesus in the manger surrounded by rubble. A picture which is symbolic of the Palestinian communities in Gaza which have been torn apart during the ongoing war between Israel and the terror group Hamas.
Researching the carol ‘O little town of Bethlehem’ I came across the following verses which have been written for today.
The lamplit streets of Bethlehem
We walk now through the night
There is no peace in Bethlehem
There is no peace in sight
The wounds of generations
Almost too deep to heal
Scar the timeworn miracle
And make it seem surreal.
The baby in the manger
Grew to a man one day
And still we try to listen now
To what he had to say
Put up your swords forever
Forgive your enemies
Love your neighbour as yourself
Let your little children come to me.
This Christmas, in the name of ‘The Prince of Peace’ we must pray for peace. In the words of the Angel ‘Peace on earth and goodwill to all.’ Peace in our hearts and lives, our homes and families, our churches and communities, our nation and world.
The Good news is that Jesus offers that peace which this world could never give or even understand. Let’s receive this gift for ourselves and share it far and wide this Christmas.
The peace of the Lord be always with you,
A happy and blessed Christmas.