As we gather during the darkest and coldest time of the year, to tell again of the arrival of God’s Son, we remember that it is a story in which we – all of us here – become part of throughout the entire year and throughout our entire lives. This story, which this child brings, invites us all to find our place within it; to find where we belong in God’s plan for this creation, this world that we walk through each and every day.
And as we embark together on a new year, I encourage you to reflect back on the previous year and look forward to the future, with the promise of God’s faithfulness always before you. It has been almost a year now since we came among you, to witness to God’s grace and love in this community and to build up the kingdom of God here on the Isle of Lewis. Over the months we have done many good things together. We have grown in numbers; we have begun new ministries; and we continue to be the people of God; people who love and care for each other; people who journey through the many facets of life together. In the birth of the Christ-Child we are led, again, into the very heart of God. The birth of a baby amongst the animals in a Bethlehem-barn reveals to us that God works in the most surprising ways, in ways that we would never expect, or could even possibly imagine.
Through this baby called Jesus, we can now say that God is found not just in the cathedrals or in our churches, but that God is found in ordinary human life: through the cries of a baby, through the darkness of a filthy stable, through parents who had no idea what they had got themselves into, and through the life of a child who grew up to be a man who spoke about God in a way we had never heard before. God speaks in human life. And this one fact alone is more than we could ever hope for.
In our joint lives here together at St. Peter’s we rejoice that God would choose to come amongst us, to walk upon this very earth and experience everything that we too experience: joy, heartache, pleasure, grief, disappointment. And we rejoice that we have each other. In a world that is too often shattered by violence, greed, and inhumanity, we give thanks that we have the gift of community, friendship and love in our church family. And when we find our place within the magnificent Christmas story, life will never be the same again.My prayer is that you will encourage each other to live out the message of Christ’s redeeming love, knowing always that the darkness will be overcome and there will be light and life in all of God’s abundance and grace. During this holy season, may the blessing of the Christ-Child be upon you, those whom you love, and all who you pray for.
The Reverend Shona Boardman