A Christmas like no other!

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A Christmas message from Helen Kerr, chairperson, Arran Churches Together

What a strange Christmas we celebrate this year! Will we meet together? Should we just be patient till another year? Can we risk going over the number the government is permitting?! Sometimes we just need to pause and think, ‘What is the right thing to do?’

Two thousand plus years ago some people had to work out what was ‘the right thing to do’.

There was Mary spending the betrothal time, a kind of engagement period, when going about her housework in her parents’ house suddenly had a visitor who frightened the daylights out of her with his appearance and the fear did not lessen when he said she would become pregnant. However, the evangel or angel told her how it would miraculously happen and remembering all she had heard and believed as a young girl, she trusted God and his messenger and knew she had to accept.

There was Joseph who wasn’t sure about his young fiancée when she told him she was pregnant. In fact he was upset, unprepared to accept her story, prepared to quietly send her packing, put the wedding off. Quite a dilemma. But it was so out of Mary’s character – a good lass, a faithful Jewish maid – and there was something impelling about her story. Then, as Joseph slept, he had a dream and heard the clear message that he should trust, trust God and trust his girl. So he stood by her.

There were some foreigners from the East who were convinced that someone unique, very special would be born and then heard that the long-awaited event had happened. They knew the right thing to do was to make a very long journey to honour and give the child special gifts.

Of all the times to have such events it was then 2,000-plus years ago; of all the places – an occupied country at the far end of the Roman Empire; to an insignificant village in the middle of an empire census; to, of all people – an engaged couple, pretty low on the socio-economic scale, about to have an infant that would change the world and millions of lives over the millennia.

In whatever way we celebrate Christmas this year, will we spare a thought and wonder at the story which even today turns nations’ and individuals’ beliefs and thinking upside down.

A baby, a boy, a man who showed us through his words and actions that we should care more for the poor, the hungry and oppressed in our society than how to make a pile of personal wealth; we should speak out against the injustice and be a voice for the exploited in our world. In a word, remember kindness and be there to help others rather than think of self gain.

Let us celebrate with friends and family this Christmas either face to face or virtually and remember with gratitude all those in our country and further afield who have worked, served and volunteered throughout this year – ‘like no other’; caring for others, holding hands delivering shopping and medicines, driving buses and lorries, ambulances and rescue vehicles, and many others.

Joy to the World the Saviour Reigns Have a Very Happy Christmas.