Pause for Thought December 2011

Christmas TreeAs I write this we have just had a great morning in St John’s Church with lots of children and adults helping to make and hang the decorations on our Jesse tree.
The Jesse Tree is the forerunner of both the Christmas tree and the Advent calendar. The correct way to dress it is to put on it a symbol of the history of the Bible from Genesis through to the birth of Jesus – Jesse was, of course, an ancestor of Jesus, through whom his birth was foretold.

Do go into the church and see the colourful decorations the children made. The tree stands to one side of the altar and while you are there you will find a tree on the other side of the altar which is the Memory Tree, on which you might hang a silver star with the name of a loved one who you would like remembered at Christmas.

Christmas is, of course, a time when we hope everyone will have a happy time with friends and family, but we also do well to remember those for whom it is just another day of struggle to survive. As we picture the baby Jesus lying in the manger, we need also to remember that beyond that manger Jesus was born into a world of despotic rulers, violence and pain. And, sadly, our world still has many children being born into just such a world. And we do need, amid our own celebrations and present giving to pause and think of them.
Christian Aid, this year, has a focus on Burma and those who have fled into refugee camps across the border into Thailand, but who long to return home to their villages. They do have shelter and food in Thailand, but that is all and they want a future for themselves and their children where life returns to normal patterns of a proper home and work as well as health and education for the children. So, as we enjoy watching our own children enjoy Christmas, let us at least spare a thought for those elsewhere and perhaps give something to a charity to support their work.
Christian Aid have published this prayer please use it.
Emmanuel, God-with-us,
as we journey to the stable,
help us to recognize you – not a t a safe distance but shockingly incarnate,
born among those for whom the world can find no room.
As we follow your star,
prepare our hearts so that love and joy and peace are not homeless
but can come to birth and dwell in us.
As we kneel at the manger,
and rejoice in the miracle of fragile love,
 inspire us to build a world
that welcomes those who are far from home
and preserves the safety of the sleeping child.
Wishing you all a very happy and blessed Christmas. Margaret