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Beyond Christmas: a message from Scotland’s Christian leaders

Leaders and representatives of Scotland’s major {sic} Christian
denominations have issued a joint Christmas message. They say:

"Peace
be with you!
We’re often told that Christmas is stressful for some and
lonely for others and too much of a spending frenzy for the majority. It
needn’t be. Christmas is also a time when we look beyond ourselves and
when deep down we want only the best for those closest to us and for all
who are in need in our world.

"It is a time to hear again the
familiar story of the birth of Jesus Christ. A time when we long for peace
on earth and goodwill among all people.

"But Christmas is more than
simply the celebration of the birth of a baby. The story takes us beyond
the glitter and the tinsel and the lights to something much deeper.

"Most
of us experience a sense of awe and wonder when we stand at the foot of a
cradle and gaze on a newly born baby. As we see the crib scenes in the
centres of our cities, towns and villages, we are moved again by the
memory of that experience. And as we feel it, we are invited to look
beyond the baby, to catch a glimpse of God whose gift is hope; the hope of
peace and goodwill, of beauty and love. We are invited to look beyond what
we see, however bleak it might seem, to discover signs of goodness and
beauty, of hope, of joy wherever people are trying to do their best.

"The
Christmas story tells us about people trying to do their best in a pretty
bleak situation – a couple forced to go to another town for a census, a
man doing his best for the woman to whom he was engaged and who was
heavily pregnant, but not by him, and an inn keeper trying to do his best
for the couple when all the accommodation in town was taken. And, in this
very human drama, the birth of a baby.

"Then there is the
unexpected invitation to the shepherds, an invitation to us all, to go and
see in the new-born child the signals of hope for all the earth – to see
love and joy and goodness and beauty, the signs of God’s presence on earth
and the gift of hope for peace and goodwill among all people.

"At
times it is hard not to feel down-hearted when our best does not seem good
enough: when things go wrong with our relationships despite our best
intentions; when tragedy hits families or communities both near and far;
when so much of our news is about violence, destroying people and our
environment.

"Christmas is a time for looking beyond these to see
goodness and beauty in those around us; to look at tragedy and see the
stories of kindness and compassion that carry with them the hope of life
beyond the darkness; to look at the violence and see the efforts made to
change these patterns and see in them signals of hope for a safer world;
to look at our environment and see the beauty that is there and to hear
the call for green alternatives as signals of hope for our planet.

"When
we accept the invitation to look beyond the surface, we become open to
signals of hope for ourselves, our families and our world. This is part of
God’s gift that is celebrated at Christmas but which does not stop there.
God invites us to look beyond.

"May we all share God’s gift of love
and hope this Christmas and in the year that lies ahead."

This
message was written by:

– The Most Rev Dr Idris Jones, Bishop
of Glasgow and Galloway, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church


Rt Rev Sheilagh Kesting, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church
of Scotland

– His Eminence Keith Patrick Cardinal O’ Brien,
Archbishop & Metropolitan of St Andrews and Edinburgh

– Rev
Lily Twist, Chair of the Methodist Synod in Scotland

– Pamala
McDougall, Clerk, General Meeting for Scotland, The Religious Society of
Friends

– Major Robert McIntyre, Scotland Secretariat, The
Salvation Army

– Rev David Cartledge, Moderator of the United Free
Church of Scotland

– Rev John Humphreys, Moderator, United Reformed
Church Synod of Scotland

– Brother Stephen Smyth, General
Secretary, Action of Churches Together in Scotland

Full story at
the Scottish
Episcopal Church
.

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