Christmas message from Methodist Leader

The President of the British Methodist Conference, The RevWil Morrey, has the following message for Christmas 2004:

(Hearthe message)

"When I was a student in Birmingham a Methodist minister andchaplain spoke of how the local congregation had been invited thatyear to see a baby, baptised the Sunday before Christmas, as theChrist child for them. In conversation he explained how each yearhe had found it helpful to focus the celebration of Immanuel, Godwith us, in a child.

Such a practice invites us to follow each year God's path ofincarnation as we are invited to explore afresh how the story ofJesus' birth is about God's commitment to human life. Like the wisemen in the story of Jesus' birth, we can be surprised by where weare led.

That conversation came to my mind in August this year when Ivisited a remote village in the arid east of Kenya. As I arrived acommunity meeting was organising the distribution of food aid. Theytook me to the chapel, where a group of children and young peoplesang to welcome me. After their songs I watched the young woman whohad led the group sit down. A child passed an infant to her, and asshe suckled the little one at her breast I knew they were themother and Christ child for me this year.

Later, I was escorted to a grave near the chapel where lay threegenerations brutally slain in intertribal conflict three years ago.In a place where life hangs by a thread I looked at the youngmother and child and therein saw again the powerful affirmations ofhope, joy, and the vibrancy of life. As I celebrate Christmas athome with family and friends, their faces will be in my mind. Iwill rejoice in God's continuing commitment in love for theworld.

The village, in which the little yet essential means of lifewere shared with thankfulness to God and a looking to the needs ofeach, was a microcosm of the kingdom of God and the reign of thePrince of Peace. But this Christ child impresses on us how ourworld knows increasing division between rich and poor. Like thewise men who offered gifts, we are challenged to include in ourcelebration that which we can offer for the need of the world. Thatchallenge will especially be with us this coming year when Britainboth hosts the annual G8 gathering of powerful world leaders andheads up the European Union.

I pray that we will take both the celebratory good news and thechallenge of the Christ child among us into those deliberations andour daily lives.

So may we know the blessing of God this Christmastide."