A thought for Christmas. What Christmas means to us in 21st century West Somerset, is a complex mixture of ancient origins and our more recent experiences. Our experience of life shapes how we understand things, how we respond to things, what our priorities are. Our experience of life is different for each one of us. This means that we all have something unique and beautiful to bring to the world, to share with others in our family and wider community. Each of us has something unique to say and each of us is worthy of being listened to, by a generous and attentive audience, willing to take time to her what is being said.
At the heart of the Christmas story is the birth of a new baby, who will grow into a new person, who will have a unique perspective, new ideas, new ways of seeing the world. And the message of the Christmas story is that there is nothing more important than properly valuing this new life which has been born into the world and by implication of the poetry of the story, of every new life that is born into the world. Insofar therefore as there is a ‘real meaning of Christmas’ it is the unalienable value and dignity of each person
What this means in terms of how each of us will vote at the General Election, for example, is also a complex mixture of things and a matter for each of us to reflect on and come to our own decision. The churches and the meaning of Christmas do not offer us simple answers to complex questions. What they do offer us is a reminder of the value of each person, a reminder to value others and ourselves, to treat ourselves and others with compassion, dignity and love.
What the churches certainly offer at Christmas, is an opportunity to hear again the story of the birth of Jesus, within the beautiful and evocative surroundings of our ancient buildings, steeped in in history and prayer, a space to pause for thought, for peace, for quiet, an opportunity to sit with others in a generous environment of mutual encouragement and think about what is important, to listen to our own hearts; to feel a range of emotions and to allow ourselves to be inspired.
There is a full and varied program of services and events for Christmas across the eight parishes of the Exmoor Benefice, to which everyone is welcome.
I wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas
All the best, David