Dear Friends

Well, the start of yet another year again!  We pray that this year will bring to us all, the peace and presence of the Lord as we journey on together.

I know a good number of us like the Stanley Holloway monologues  – and to misquote Battle of Hastings ‘Well Christmas is all ower bah’t shouting, and you couldn’t see t’mince pies fur dust’.  So what are your abiding memories of Christmas 2022?  I think we had some excellent services over this time, setting out the truth of what God did for us in sending His Son to this earth, the reality of the Gospel within the TRUE Christmas story.  We pray that God will, in His grace, continue to reach out through us to the folk in the villages to draw them into a deeper relationship with Him

To anyone who managed to watch a meaningful Christmas film on Christmas Day I say ‘congratulations!’ because I know a lot of us looked and found little to watch of any value.  Did you watch King Charles’ address?  I was quite touched by his expressed long-term deep desire to go to Bethlehem. 

It is sad to realise that if Mary and Joseph were to come now and try to enter Bethlehem, the town where the great king David was born they wouldn’t be allowed and if they tried to sneak in they would be doing so at great risk to their lives.

In the last thirty years, this town which was once a largely Christian Arab town is now 90-95% Muslim.  Like in many other Arab Christian communities in the Middle East (Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Iran) persecution from their Muslim brethren has caused them to flee to the West. The demonisation of Israel as the reason Christians have left Bethlehem is categorically not true.  In Israel there is freedom of religion for all – whoever you are.

Personally, the Sunday before Christmas we were listening to Evening Service from Christ Church, Jerusalem.  They sang a new carol that we sang on Christmas Day (and we’re singing it again on New Year’s Day) This is my highlight and I hope the simplicity and truth of the words bless you too.

One glorious night when love crossed over
And cast aside both crown and throne
To live beside the common man
As was foretold, the promised One

And there He lay in humble straw
As angels sing “goodwill to all”
A gift from God, to reconcile
All men to Him, this perfect child

Behold this day, A Saviour’s born
And in whose fate this world has longed
Conceived in faith, received with love
Come kneel beside this child of God

Come kneel beside this child of God

Every blessing for this coming year, may we hold fast to our faith and reflect the grace and light of God’s precious Son.