From the Manse December 2014

From the Manse

They’ll begin arriving soon - the Christmas cards with their angelic Disney-like barn animals, deepley content young parents and well-groomed spirit-filled shepherds; animals and people all possessing an air of peacefulness that would turn Nobel Peace prize winners green with envy.

These Christmas card images help conjure a mental picture of first century Bethlehem which, like the hymn writer, we find difficult to dismiss:
"O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above your deep and dreamless sleep,
The silent stars go by."

Yet the events and experience of that town in recent years perhaps remind us more clearly of the atmosphere and environment in to which Jesus was born. It was then, as it often today still is, a troubled environment. Remember that Mary and Joseph were ordered there by a hated occupying military force. Being a town no little distance from their home it was, to say the least, an inconvenient journey. But for expectant parents like Mary and Joseph the trip to Bethlehem must have been a deeply troublesome one to have to make.

Nevertheless, perhaps we should not dismiss too lightly wha the illustrators of our Christmas cards and the authors of out carols are attempting to convey - that into this place of frequent difficulty, trial and tribulation, into the lives of ordinary people and places, God, in the gift of the Christ child, speaks his word of peace.

It is a message our world today still sorely needs to hear and experience.

So let us look forward to both the arrival of those Christmas cards and the singing of our Christmas carols and the mysterious and elusive peacefulness they seek to convey. May they prompt us to prater and to action that God’s peace, may truly rule the hearts and lives of all people.

We wish you all, and those dear to you, joy and peace this Christmas and the New Year ahead.

Love And Blessing

John and Liz