We wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas. For all of us, there have been ups and downs. As I sit here writing this, I'm listening to Londons Burning by the Clash. Let us give thanks for the the fact that the opposite is true. London, for all it's faults, is the greatest city on the planet. We all get on. We all tolerate each others peculiarities and we don't care what God our next door neighbour worships, just so long as he doesn't mind us.
Christmas symbolises birth and change. Whatever you think of the story of the birth of Jesus, there are a few lessons anyone can take (even if you don't believe the story).
1. Jesus was born out of wedlock. Joseph was not his biological father, but he accepted him and treated him as his son. He comes out of the story with a lot of credit. We should all show a bit of his tolerence and forgiveness. Did he doubt Marys story? He clearly loved her and that was enough.
2. Jesus had to flee Bethlehem for fear of persecution. When we criticise "ASYLUM SEEKERS" maybe we should consider the beginnings of the man who founded the state religion in the UK. Every time you slag off an asylum seeker, you are slagging off Jesus Christ as well (and for you atheists, that doesn't let you off the hook, we all need to be decent people).
3. Three wise men travelled "from the east" to visit the scene of the birth. We all have to "follow our star". If we have to do something, even if the journey is perilous, we must see it through.
4. The Sheperds on the hill also bore witness to the birth. I draw great consolation that the man who many believe to be the messiah was born witness to by ordinary blokes as well as Kings from the east. We all matter.
5. And perhaps the biggest one. Mary and Joseph were given shelter in a barn, where Mary gave birth. An act of small kindness by an innkeeper. Do we have a barn in our hearts, where we can give someone a little bit of shelter to someone who needs it? For the last year I've volunteered at a homeless centre. Is it right that 2,000 years after the birth in a barn of the man who founded our state religion, that people still have to sleep in barns, parks and doorways.
Last night I attended a very nice childrens service at our local church, which was packed to bursting. Christmas is a time when we should remember children. They are the future. They deserve better from us. What sort of a world are we building. Here is a song which always touches me at this time of the year
I wish you all a peaceful, restfull and loving Christmas. For those of you who believe, may God bless you and for those who don't, seasons greetings.