Christmas Message 2018

 

We have come to the end of our 30th anniversary year.  It has been a year of quiet celebration and thanksgiving for the faithfulness of God to us.  Our theme for the year, as you know, has been ‘Restoration through Friendship’.  While we have looked to the past with gratitude that has not been our main focus.  Rather, conscious of what has gone before, the challenge is to be fully alive in the present moment to all that is, while looking forward to a future of restoration – and to seek to live that future in the now.  I know at the moment that may seem too much of a challenge.  Every day we awaken to more bad news.  By that I mean news that tends to increase fear, uncertainty, confusion and the instinct for self-preservation over any feeling of compassion.  We tend to react rather than respond.  But each Advent I have an acute awareness that we are on the verge of something new.  Perhaps it is that hope is reborn in hearts that have sought to be still enough to hear the notes of promise.  Perhaps it is the almost desperate longing that aches for God to come, to speak, to act in such a way that the world will take notice.  Perhaps it is the hunger, the desire to be surprised by joy that knows in a place beyond my head that God ‘is’ and because that is so, we can with total conviction announce the angelic message of peace on earth, of good will, of a new heaven and a new earth.  In this way we can continue to be people who inspire hope in others, an Advent people.

 

Wherever you are in the world, whatever challenges you are facing, may you and we never lose hope in the power of restoration through friendship – with God, with ourselves and with others.  May it be our theme as long as we live.  Such ‘glad tidings of great joy’ are for all people.  May you personally experience this joy over Advent and Christmas and in the year ahead.

 

Christmas reflection

 

You ask me what I want

 

for Christmas, Lord.

 

I want hope and joy and

 

peace,

 

but most of all

 

it’s love I want,

 

love for myself, for others

 

and for you.

 

Without it, all the other gifts

 

are rendered impotent.

 

I pause in my requests

 

and in the stillness hear a

 

voice.

 

‘Why do you ask

 

for what already has been

 

given?

 

For Love was born at

 

Christmas,

 

and is forever present in my

 

world,

 

but you must first receive it

 

before you pass it on.

 

It is a gift that grows by

 

sharing.’

 

 

 

At last I understand.

 

I no longer have a list,

 

just one request.

 

All I want for Christmas,

 

Lord,

 

is you.

 

 

 

Above is an extract from a poem I wrote some years ago that still today seems to encapsulate what I’ve been trying to say.  A joy-filled, blessed Christmas to you all.

 

Ruth  Patterson