Presidents Christmas message

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The Revd Ruth Gee, President of the MethodistConference, has called on the Methodist people to celebrate God'sgenerosity by being generous disciples. 


In her Christmas message, the Revd Ruth Gee urgedpeople to "celebrate and share the generous love of God who mothersus and longs to wipe away our tears, and to nurture us so that wecan become the people she has created us to be." 


Her message also advised people on how to respond toGod's "generous love" which is "offered to all".


"We should respond by being generous disciples," shesaid. "We can be generous with our time; time spent with God andtime spent with others. Only if we spend time with God will we growto know God better." 


The full text of the President'sChristmas message follows:


When I first went to Yorkshire I had to learn a newlanguage. Apart from three years when I was at university in Hull,I had lived in the south of England, and there were words andphrases that were completely unfamiliar to me.  I learned thathaving a pot on meant that you were wearing a plaster cast and thatto 'play pop' was to make a fuss. I learned to sing about chimingChristmas bells between the verses of 'While shepherds watched' andI discovered that the 'Cornish' served in the lunch club wasnothing like the Cornish Pasties enjoyed in the SouthWest. 


One word that was often used by people in Yorkshirewas 'real'. People were said to be real if they were genuine andtrustworthy. To be described as real was a seal of approval, itmeant that a person or a thing was authentic and true.


Several years ago, I visited Florence. In a number ofplaces in that city you can see replicas of Michelangelo's Davidand they are very beautiful. If you want to see the originalsculpture, you need to go into the Academia, in which it is themajor exhibit. The David in the Academia is 'real', it isundoubtedly the real thing and it stands out from all the copies.As you look at it you can see the skill, the style and thetechnique of Michelangelo, there is something of the artist himselfin his creation.


At midnight on Christmas Eve, in many of our churchesthe central candle will be lit in the Advent wreath. The whitecandle symbolises the birth of Jesus, the light of the world. Thisis the start of Christmas. This is the moment when we rememberthat: "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seenhis glory." It doesn't get much more real than this. In Jesus wesee, and we encounter, the creator of the universe, the artist whoweaves the fabric of our being. This is the reality that God iswith us. 


God is with us - how exciting and awesome is that? Inall the busyness of the festival, don't forget to be excited.Christmas is not only for the children! Celebrate the birth ofJesus, and share the good news of God's generous love as widely asyou can. Celebrate and share the generous love of God who sent hisonly son so that we might know the father through the child.Celebrate and share the generous love of God who mothers us andlongs to wipe away our tears, and to nurture us so that we canbecome the people she has created us to be. 


I remember so clearly the first time that I held eachof my children in my arms. I remember the overwhelming love I feltfor them and I hoped that they would love me too. I couldn't demandtheir love, I have no right to it, but I longed for it. If youkneel at the manger this Christmas and look into the eyes of thebaby, you may find that you are filled with love and you mightdiscover a longing for the generous love of God?


God's generous love is offered to all of us andinvites a response from us. How can we respond?


We should respond by being generous disciples. We canbe generous with our time; time spent with God and time spent withothers. Only if we spend time with God will we grow to know Godbetter. How generous are we with the time we spend in prayer? Ifind that it is all too easy to rush through prayer or to bedistracted by other worthy things, which are themselvesimpoverished if they are not grounded in prayer.  


We can also be generous with our resources, with ourgifts and skills and with our money. And we can be generous withour love, love of God and love of others which is often shown whenwe engage with, and respond to, challenges and needs insociety. 


In all this we are joyful. We are filled with thedeep and real joy of those who know that they are loved and valuedbeyond measure. When we have this much real joy in our lives wehave to celebrate and we have to share.


I pray that you will all have a joyful, peaceful andblessed Christmas and that you will find the space and the time tokneel at the manger, to look deep into the eyes of Jesus and toglimpse the glory of God. Then you will know that Christmas isreal.