We need to work hard and intentionally to be kind, help each other and build up community
Last updated Dec 25, 2023

Our Christmas message this year comes from the Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Revd Anna Eltringham. 

On behalf of the whole team at The Stray Ferret we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, peaceful 2024. 

In my last church, when I was a new vicar, I soon learnt there were a few lines in the Christmas Eve Nativity play which I must NEVER contemplate removing.  From the start of the play every single year, the Christmas tree lights would be un-lit and my colleague would explain, again, that one of the first things we needed to do was get the Christmas tree lights working. ‘We must all clap our hands’, she said, which we all did obediently.  ‘Clap harder!’ she’d cry ‘It’s not working…!’ until, as if by magic, the lights would blink into their beautiful, bright display.  ‘Well done everyone.  You know what they say, don’t you?’ – and here comes the punchline – ‘Many hands make lights work!’

I was reminded of those words when I visited the local Re-use and Re-cycling Centre in Ripon recently.  Never have I met such helpful and kind Refuse and Recycling Operatives.  The other day as I said thank you one said ‘That’s ok love – you know what they say… many hands make light work.’ Which they do.

Life is good when people care for each other, are kind and helpful, and pull together in good times and bad.  Sadly, in the world at large and in our local neighbourhoods, it can often feel like we see more that is far from friendly.  Social media makes things worse because it’s all too easy to be very unpleasant about individuals or groups, because we’ll hopefully never meet them in person.

The story of Jesus’ birth is set against a back drop of hatred. King Herod was determined to track down Jesus and snuff out the light he brought into the world.  However, as Mary, Joseph, Inn-keeper, Shepherds, Magi and animals gathered around the baby, some say we observe the first ever church.  A diverse group brought together by God’s love, gentleness and hope in the face of Jesus.

Like trying to make the church’s Christmas tree lights work, we need to work hard and intentionally to be kind, help each other and build up community.  I think, when we do, we see something of God’s light and love, gentleness and hope.  That can happen anywhere, but churches are a place where we can step into it somewhere and I encourage you to step inside your local church to experience it yourself, this Christmas.

Because I have one more ‘thank you’ and that is to all ministers and local volunteers, who work so hard to create beautiful Christmas services and events.  Thank you for making a space where we can glimpse the light and love, gentleness and hope of Christ with and through one another.

Peace on earth!  Goodwill to all!  And may you have a very Happy and Blessed Christmas!

Please give generously to the Stray Ferret Christmas Appeal