With the Rt Rev Paul Wil­liams, Angli­can Bishop of South­well and Not­ting­ham

Nottingham Post - - OPINION -

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.south­­

What do you think? Is there an is­sue you feel strongly about?: Share your views with us at the ad­dress on the op­po­site page or e-mail us at opin­[email protected]­ting­ham­

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