The Vice President's Christmas address

The number one song in the charts this Christmas is almostcertainly going to be Do they know it's Christmas? Onceagain a group of pop stars have made a record to bring before usthe hunger and poverty in our world. Through the year our screenshave been filled with pictures and stories coming out of Sudan. Yetit is not only here but also in countless places that thousands ofpeople are dying of hunger, of disease, as victims of war, frombrutal oppression or neglect.

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

At the heart of the story of Christmas lies the truth that Godgave himself to the world completely in a baby named Jesus. This,the greatest gift of all, was asign of love and hope for peopleseverywhere. So we have developed the tradition of giving andreceiving presents on Christmas Day all wrapped around the figureof Santa and his reindeers. There is something precious in thischild-like mystery that never leaves us and we constantly relivethe joy and wonder of it all through new generations of children.Although we love to receive presents at Christmas, or at any othertime, there is also the real joy and thrill that comes from beingable to give to others, to watch their face and hear thegratitude.

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

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

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