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He Came Down (December 2021 and January 2022)

Dear Friends

We have had much to make us remember that the world is a home that has to be shared. We have been reminded in forceful ways that humanity is a global family. Much that challenges us, whether that be virus or climate emergency, refugees or poverty, injustice or greed, crosses national borders. All are touched by much of this, in smaller and in larger ways.

Amidst it all is gathered the Church; a family within the human family. Sometimes it is worth remembering, for all that we may sense the smallness and decline of the URC in different ways, that Christianity is a very big family across the world. According to the Pew Research Centre, in 2015 there were 2.3 billion Christians, some 31.2% of the world’s people (see www.pewresearch.org for a host of statistics and analysis of data). Christianity remains, as it has for centuries, the world’s largest religion.

As we journey, now, into Advent, on through the Christmas season and thence out into 2022, we will celebrate again the stunning story of the Incarnation. In the baby that Mary holds the world and all of its people find God coming to live amongst us. This remains the most staggering claim to make. It continues to begin stories of salvation across the world in lives as diverse as we can imagine, in settings as different as anyone could dream up and in situations of joy and pain far beyond anything I will ever know. This little life, this God-becoming-one-with-and-for-us, this Emmanuel, writes new history every day.

It is because this is true that we share in a global family of followers of Christ. That family prays many different prayers and sings many different songs. Isn’t that a delight? Hear then, words sung in Cameroon that we can sing too:

1. He came down that we may have love;
he came down that we may have love;
he came down that we may have love,
hallelujah for evermore. (repeat verse)

2. He came down that we may have peace;
he came down that we may have peace;
he came down that we may have peace,
hallelujah for evermore. (repeat verse)

3. He came down that we may have joy;
he came down that we may have joy;
he came down that we may have joy,
hallelujah for evermore. (repeat verse)

(“Many and Great: songs of the world church,” Wild Goose Publications, 1990)

My prayer is that, this Christmas and New Year, you will know in ways profound and wonderful, something more of the joy of the life of Christ shared with you and through you. My hope is that, together, we will shape and share worship and opportunity that lets his story and his reality ring out in love and praise for all the world to know.

Wishing you all ever blessing and much joy in 2022,

Yours in Christ,

Neil