Christmas message from the Primus: ‘Let us care for those who are struggling’

December 24, 2022

Glory to God in highest heaven, and on earth peace to all in whom God delights.

Those are the words sung by the angels as recorded in St Luke’s Gospel, as they proclaimed the birth of Jesus to the shepherds out in the fields near Bethlehem. Glory to God and peace to all. These words will be repeated at nativity plays, carol services and in many churches at the Midnight Eucharist. People will begin to feel the warmth generated by these familiar words as Christmas Day begins.

As a society we have created a remarkable product around Christmas Day. We have built expectations of happiness, good cheer and comfort, all set against a picturesque backdrop of gently falling snow. Unfortunately, those images are never real for a significant number of those we are called to serve. This year, for many it will be even harder than before to create any sense of warmth in either heart or body.

OnAs I arrived at the Cathedral in Inverness for our carol service the other day, I passed the rolled-up sleeping bags in the porch, the large container for children’s gifts, and the pile of coats left for those who need something to keep the cold out. These have become the ever-present symbols of a society where an increasing number of people rely on kindness for basic support. I know some shake their heads at the “mess” but most accept that what we see is the reality of life for some people. They need our help.

We celebrate this Christmas at a time when war is taking place in Ukraine, there is famine in the Horn of Africa, and desperate people are crossing the sea in small boats to flee dire consequences in their own countries. We are also aware of the many people near us who will not have enough to pay for their heating or for their food. We think of those who will not be able to make Christmas the special time that it would normally be for their families, and will feel they have somehow failed their loved ones.

As we hear those pleas for support, help us to offer something of ourselves to look after others; teach us how to share and care for those who are struggling, and to allow our churches and congregations to be beacons of prayer, light and hope in this world. We have a wonderful message to proclaim, we have a glorious festival to celebrate, let the joy of our faith light us up as we rejoice in the wonder of the Christmas story.

Let the power of the incarnation lead to us to action, and the love of God cause us to sing with the angels.

Glory to God in highest heaven, and on earth peace to all in whom God delights.

[Main picture: St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh]