Jonathan FordThoughts for December

As we draw closer to Christmas, many of us, quite rightly, are worried about the future.  What will Brexit mean?  Will there be enough money to fund our health services and schools?  Will we be able to control immigration?  What will happen to house prices?  Can I afford to go on living if my income continues to be squeezed and prices rise?
You might be surprised to realise that these are the same sorts of things that were going through Joseph’s mind as he and his young wife went towards Bethlehem.  What will this new Roman tax mean for me?  Will I be able to manage to look after my young wife and child?  Can I trust the tyrannical King Herod?  The future for all of them seemed very uncertain and, as many of you will know, after the joy for Mary and Joseph of the birth of Jesus, they had to flee for their lives and they did not return to Israel for some years.
That is why I am able to write a very positive message this Christmas time.  In the midst of all these cares and anxieties literally hundreds of people, and especially children, have got behind our Shoebox appeal.  With all your worries and anxieties, many of you have thought it more important to give than to receive.  As I write this article, there are already over 650 filled shoeboxes in the church and we still have not had the special ‘Shoebox Service’.  I am certain that in January I will be able to surprise you with tremendous good news.
The second thing that struck me is the way the BBC have been recording the suffering of Christians, particularly in Egypt where churches have been bombed, family members killed and wives and children severely scarred.  And yet they have been able to say for themselves, to God, to the world and to their oppressors, ‘I freely forgive you, for God has forgiven me’.  Even the BBC has been able to pay tribute to the serenity of these people and the tranquillity and peace they have found in their faith. 
I am convinced; therefore, when we take the teaching of Jesus seriously, and we take the attention from ourselves, we find the power to forgive when we are slighted, hurt or abused.  And when we forgive we find that relationships are restored, we have a new strength and renewed energy and we find the peace, tranquillity and strength to live better lives. 
Last year I gave a message reassuring you that Jesus Christ came to seek and save the lost, and indeed that is the true meaning of Christmas.  But Jesus also said, ‘I have come that you may have life, life in all its fullness’.  In the midst of all the hurly-burly of modern life with all our cares and anxieties, very few of us are living what could be called full and abundant lives.  But I have found, as many who have completed our recent Alpha course, a true and abundant life can be found in Jesus Christ.  So this Christmas time as we have so many special services, which are advertised, see if you can find the time to join us and find the time to pray and begin to experience that abundant life we all can find when we put our trust in Jesus Christ.
I wish you a very happy and peaceful Christmas,
With every good wish,
Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Ford
Revd. Canon Jonathan Ford.
Minister Christ Church Moreton Hall