22 December 2004

The Vice President's Christmas address

The number one song in the charts this Christmas is almost certainly going to be Do they know it's Christmas? Once again a group of pop stars have made a record to bring before us the hunger and poverty in our world. Through the year our screens have been filled with pictures and stories coming out of Sudan. Yet it is not only here but also in countless places that thousands of people are dying of hunger, of disease, as victims of war, from brutal oppression or neglect.

Some of us turn our faces and lives away from such stories whilst others are moved to respond. What has this to do with Christmas? Why is the song asking: 'do they know it's Christmas?'

At the heart of the story of Christmas lies the truth that God gave himself to the world completely in a baby named Jesus. This, the greatest gift of all, was a sign of love and hope for peoples everywhere. So we have developed the tradition of giving and receiving presents on Christmas Day all wrapped around the figure of Santa and his reindeers. There is something precious in this child-like mystery that never leaves us and we constantly relive the joy and wonder of it all through new generations of children. Although we love to receive presents at Christmas, or at any other time, there is also the real joy and thrill that comes from being able to give to others, to watch their face and hear the gratitude.

Most of us will receive lots of gifts this Christmas and we will also eat far too much food than is good for us. Meanwhile in the majority of the world there will be many people who will go to bed hungry and there will be no brightly coloured wrapped presents for them. Will they know it's Christmas?

Do they know it's Christmas? Do I know it's Christmas? The challenge is to us all. To learn to give to those around the world in need, not because we expect anything in return, but to give because we want to. Each time we do so the true message of Christmas is seen. Of a God who loves so much that he gave Himself completely and invites us all to give as generously to others in their need.

The Making Poverty History campaign will begin in 2005 so in accepting the challenge of the Christmas message let us commit ourselves to the campaign. In so doing maybe more will know that it is Christmas. May all know the love, joy and peace that Christmas brings.
Deacon Myrtle Poxon, Vice President of Conference 2004/5

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