From the Manse

You are the Christ, the Son of the living God
Matthew 16:16

Taking a good look at my study recently I concluded I really must tidy it. In the process of this tidying I came across a small gift bag that I had brought back from a visit to the Holy Land two years ago. The bag contained some stones I had collected at an archaeological site, in the Golan Heights, called Banias. At the time of Jesus, this place was known as Caesarea Philippi. This was the place you, will recall, where in answer to Jesus* question, "Who do you say I am?" the disciple Peter responded, with those amazing words of faith, "You are the Christ." I brought those stones back with me in order to give to adults I baptise, as a reminder to them that in their baptism, like the disciple Peter, they proclaim Jesus as the Lord of their lives. We know that certainly within the Western world less and less people are prepared to make that proclamation of faith. It's not that there is no reaction to Jesus. For example, at this time of year, many are moved sentimentally by the cute baby in the manager at their children' school nativities - Just as I will be in a couple of weeks to hear my grandson Max, declaring as the innkeeper in his school nativity - "There is no room in the inn.

Others are happy to take a step further by acknowledging that there once lived a first century Jew, named Jesus but that the whole story about him has been embellished to such an extent that it has achieved mythical proportions.

Similarly, others are happy to declare him a great moral teacher. In doing so they are comfortable to rank him alongside teachers of morality such as Ghandi, but are not willing to go any further.

As we approach our Christmas and new-year celebrations my prayer is that in it all you too will meet the real Jesus, the Christ, the Lord of your life and my life and that in meeting with him, like Peter, you will build all you are, say and do on the rock of your faith in him.

Liz and I wish you all a blessed Christmas and peaceful New Year.

John