With the Rt Rev Paul Williams, Anglican Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham
SO will we be celebrating our last Christmas inside the EU? I am not intending to stir up a whole lot of contention, trying to address the political questions swirling around us in these days leading up to Christmas.
Intense debate and heated disputes in the heart of Westminster can seem a long way from the hurly-burly of everyday life in our city and county.
Yet the decisions being made will impact our everyday lives for good or ill for decades to come. There is plenty of uncertainty to manage, but what we know for sure is that it’s high time to renew our confidence in a more hopeful vision for life in our nation, where everyone has the opportunity to flourish.
The story of the first Christmas describes events that were unfolding in a politically tense and uncertain social climate.
At the heart of the story is a vulnerable young couple of relatively poor means travelling far from home, seeking shelter in an overcrowded town.
On one level the birth of their first child was very like the birth of any child, mixed with fear and wonder.
Yet the only reason we celebrate Christmas two thousand years later is because the life of this baby changed the world.
Christians believe that faith in Jesus is not a way to avoid the harsh realities of life but offers an unshakeable hope that inspires you to keep going even when you feel like giving up.
We don’t need to be certain about very much at all – whether it’s political decisions in Westminster or the problems we face in our lives – but we can be clear of this: that God is not distant or remote to us. His presence in our lives and our world can mean there is always hope. I believe this hope, inspired by faith, is an essential ingredient for any society that seeks to be a place where all can flourish.
So whether or not you are feeling hopeful about life and the world at the moment, get along to a Christmas service near you over the next few weeks – you will be very welcome whoever you are, and I guarantee it will be full of hope.
You might also like to watch my Christmas message, filmed around the county and city of Nottingham – you will spot a rugged manger in some very familiar places. May God bless you all.
■■See Bishop Paul’s Christmas message on Youtube via www.southwell.anglian.org
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