Minister’s Message

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

As you read this you will have already seen Christmas decorations adorning homes, shops and high streets; why? Because, as Andy Williams famously sang, ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’.

The reason is because we celebrate the Incarnation that great mystery of the Christian faith that ‘God is with us’. Some have, in the past, tried to suppress this message whilst focussing on the festivities only, often under the banner of ‘not causing offence’.

Ben Stein, an American writer, lawyer, actor, and commentator on political and economic issues and a practising Jew explains why he isn’t offended at all by Christmas.

“My wife and I celebrate Christmas, big-time. I am sure we have more decorations than anyone within miles of here.

Why? On a superficial level, it’s because the lights and tree and fire are festive. That’s innate. Man loves coloured lights and fires. When I was a child in Maryland, the Gentiles had festive lights and we Jews didn’t. I didn’t like that. I saw no reason why the Gentiles should have all the fun and I still don’t. Having those lights and a tree — that’s what I always wanted — to have coloured lights and to be a part of the dominant culture.

But I love Christmas for much more basic reasons. Christmas is about something huge. You can be saved if you simply make a contract to believe in God and (some add) if you act right. It has nothing to do with how you were born or into what tribe.

This is a revolutionary, stupendous freeing of the human spirit. This is why Christmas is such a joyous time for people, whether Jews or Christians, or anyone else, who want to believe that we humans can be forgiven and go on to lead lives of triumph no matter what has happened in our past.

That, and not shopping at all, not the retail numbers, is why Christmas is such a great time.

The lights are nice and the tree is nice and the shopping is nice. But a dominant culture that says that love and peace are the highest values — that’s what I want to honour.

We don’t honour retail sales numbers. We honour the spirit of forgiveness and love.

That’s Christmas for me. Merry Christmas.”

We have an amazing message to share with our communities regardless of their religious beliefs or lack of it. It’s the message that God is with us, not just in the birth of a baby 2,000 years ago, but now, the here and now, ready, as Stein says, to save us, forgive us and love us. What a thing to celebrate.

Heather and I wish you every blessing this Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

God Bless.

Jeff

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