December has come round once again, and Advent has begun. There are many ways that we can all prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. And I would, at this point, like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has enabled church events to happen smoothly throughout the year and to those who are working hard to make this Christmas special. You can find details of our Christmas services further on in the magazine and I look forward to seeing you at some of them.
I am very conscious, however, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, that many of our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land are facing a very different reality from the one that we are living and we all long for a time of peace. I am, indeed, praying for a ceasefire. We sing ‘O Little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie.’ Yet how far from the current truth can this be?
Thousands of people have been killed and over a million displaced after the escalation of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
1,400 Israelis have been killed and 5,400 injured. Israeli civilians, including women and children, have been forcibly taken.
In Gaza, almost 10,818 Palestinians have been killed and 26,905 have been injured. Airstrikes have caused widespread destruction of homes, schools, healthcare facilities and telecommunication installations.
Hospitals already at breaking point have been destroyed, and over a million people have been displaced. Food supplies, fuel supplies, access to water and sanitation, and schools have been drastically affected.
So, as we make our preparations for Christmas, let’s not grumble because we don’t get our favourite carol, but be thankful for the freedom we have, to celebrate in the way that we do. Moreover, let’s be mindful of those in parts of the world where the fact that they are alive today is a gift they can’t take for granted tomorrow.
Please do especially keep the people of the Holy Land in your prayers.
Longing for a world of peace
Where all are treated equally
Where all can recognise their worth
Where all can live with dignity
Where all can join hands with neighbours
Whether Muslim, Christian, Jew
And find a way to live together,
Making Holy Dreams come true.
Garth Hewitt. (From the Song Holy Town)
I will continue to pray for all around the world to know the peace of the Christ Child this Christmas.
With love and prayers,