Christmas is almost upon us, I’m sure you are tired of hearing this, but I will say it again, this Christmas is going to be like no other.
At Christmas we celebrate the gift of God in Jesus, a supreme act of loving generosity. The Word became flesh, so we might experience first hand the loving purposes of God. God gives something of himself away, he offers himself, he becomes vulnerable, so that we might discover our true identity. This is a positive act, it is an action of God in history. This action helps us understand that our faith is revealed as not just words on a page, or thoughts – however noble – in our heads, but as concrete actions. The most noble action we can take this Christmas is to honour God’s loving purpose, and we do this by caring for each other, by respecting each other. Ultimately the most loving thing to do this year might be to give our loved ones space and distance. Social distance is an act of loving generosity, of respecting the other and yes, amongst those we love it is sacrificial in its character. We sacrifice something of our own needs in order to support and care for the other.
I thought you might like to see photos of our tree planting session in the churchyard, this is the first of many sessions which will transform our graveyard into a wonderful space for relaxation and contemplation. It is a positive action which is informed, at least in my eyes, by faith. Just as is our debt counselling and our work with refugees. Practical action inspired by faith, is how we incarnate God’s love in our world.
God Bless and Stay Safe
There has been much in the media recently to highlight the shocking effects the Covid pandemic has inflicted on those who were already struggling financially before it arose.
On BBC TV news on 2nd December there was an interview with a tearful vicar in Burnley who described a visit to a parishioner as follows: ‘I am visiting a family who have no carpet, no settee, who had no gas, no electric, no food. That broke my heart, because nobody cared for them. They fell through the crack.’ Hungry children were ripping open food parcels as he was delivering them. This interview sparked an immediate response whereby more than £90,000 was donated in three days from all over the world. Subsequently nearly 500 church leaders signed an open letter to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, asking him to work with communities, churches and charities to create a comprehensive and just solution to lockdown debt. This week we heard that for the first time ever UNICEF will be feeding children in the UK.
Some of you might also have heard Mark Carney, former Governor of the Bank of England and a Roman Catholic, giving his Reith lectures. He suggests that the current crisis has made us realise how much we depend on the low-paid. Perhaps it is time we put a higher value on their contribution to our wellbeing. Since human and animal life depends on how we treat our planet, that also requires us to re-evaluate our behaviour. We have also be made aware of the satisfaction that comes from unpaid voluntary effort. Paying people to do good takes away the pleasure and fulfillment that many find in such activities.
So while we rejoice in the good news of the development of vaccines, and give thanks for all those who have worked tirelessly to bring them to fruition, let us take time to reflect on how we might wish our ways of living to change in future. And meanwhile give thanks for all that our local foodbanks and Crosslight, our debt counselling service, are doing to alleviate the current situation.
With every blessing