A Christmas Message from High St Methodist Church

Last year my Christmas message began with asking what Christmas in Palestine, 0 AD might have been like. This year, I am wondering what Israel/Palestine in December 2023 AD will be like. The news has been full of war – the horrendous terrorist activity of Hamas and the brutality of the Israeli response. But, of course, Jesus was born into a similar kind of political situation. The Romans ruled Syria/Palestine as an occupying force fighting a terrorist-like opposition. One of the classic Roman arguments about Jesus and the disciples were that they were a bunch of thieves and murderers from up north in Galilee who deserved to die.

This clashes massively with the idea of Jesus, the baby born in a manger, as the one who brings peace. After all, it’s even part of the angels’ chorus – “Peace on earth and good will to all”. Jesus’ name means “one who saves’ rather than “one who blows things up” and we remember his life as a time of healing, helping the poor, providing for the needy. Indeed, even on the cross, we are told he gave comfort and wise advice to the people crucified on either side of him.

Jesus, a Jew born in what is now the West Bank. Jesus who travelled across borders to proclaim the good news of peace and liberty. Who made it absolutely clear that peacemaking was what brought blessing. Who seemed to know well that the doctrine of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth simply leads to a world of sightless, toothless idiots. So perhaps this Christmas we need to focus on the peace that Jesus brings. To offer peace to our neighbours, to those we meet through work or at school. To see peace as the greatest gift we can bring to the Christmas celebrations.

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is the reason for the season! We would love to see you at any of our services over the holiday period – you’d be truly welcome.

God bless us all this Christmas

Pete Phillips, Methodist Minister

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