It is less than four weeks until Christmas!

By now many of us will be in the midst of making plans, buying gifts, organising Christmas get-togethers, getting ready for a holiday and generally feeling a little bit frazzled by the whole Christmas experience. There are trees to put up, gifts to wrap, turkeys to stuff – the list of the things that go into a successful Christmas seems endless.

Hopefully, in the business of Christmas we will find time to reflect on the origins of the holiday. The first Christmas involved no trees or turkeys. The journey of Jospeh and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem wasn’t for a holiday or even a family gathering. It was done to fulfil the requirements of Caeser’s tax census. Even Mary’s pregnancy did not excuse the couple from making what would have been an arduous journey of over 90 miles, most likely on foot.

The road from Nazareth to Bethlehem was well travelled and there would have been people making the journey in both directions. Even the company of other travellers on the road would do little to alleviate the weight of worry that Jospeh, and especially Mary, bore in their travels. Unwed, expecting, poor and alone their Christmas journey was one of travail.

Eventually they arrived in Bethlehem and Mary gave birth to her firstborn, Jesus. Born in a stable, his birth was an anonymous event of cosmic proportions. The only witnesses to the new born child were shepherds, whose care of their flocks was mirrored later by Jesus , who referred to himself as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.

Even as we begin to prepare for the celebration of Jesus, our hearts are reminded that, even though Jesus is the prince of peace, our world is anything but peaceful. The distance from Bethlehem to Gaza is about half the distance that Mary and Jospeh journeyed before Jesus birth. Even though they are so close, travel between the two is currently impossible.

The land where Jesus was born and grew up has rarely known peace, and today our minds reel at the horrific images that invade our TV screens on the news and a splashed across our newspapers. The tragedy of war in the Holy Land is mirrored in countless other places across our globe: Ukraine, Sudan, Myanmar (Burma), Syria, Yemen, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Colombia – the list seems endless. Today there are innumerable countries wracked by war, civil strife, ethnic violence and insurrection.

This Christmas, as we share time with family and friends, enjoying the end of the year and a rest from our labours, let us spare a thought for those for whom there is no rest and no respite. As we consider their plight we can be tempted to think that there is nothing that we can do, that we are powerless. The truth is that we can make a difference, the Red Cross and UNICEF have appeals running for those caught up in conflict in Gaza, Ukraine and Myanmar amongst others. You can make a difference by making a donation through their website. It may seem like a small thing, but your gift can make a difference to the life of another. 

In a few weeks we will celebrate the coming of the prince of peace. The one who grew to become the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep. As we celebrate his coming, we should also remember his mission, that he came to give his life that we might live. As we remember his sacrifice, let us also make a sacrifice that may bring life and joy to other this Christmas.

Yours in Christ.

Andrew Heron




Christmas Services at the Church of the Good Shepherd

The Church of the Good Shepherd’s annual Christmas Carols in the Churchyard will be held on Saturday 9 December. The evening will begin with a free Sausage Sizzle at 5pm, but you are more than welcome to bring your own picnic. Carol singing will commence around 6pm. 

On the morning of Christmas Eve, Sunday 24 December, there will be two special services There is a service of traditional Carols and Lessons at 8:30am. This is followed by a Children’s Christmas Service at 10am. Christmas Communion services will be held at 11pm on Christmas Eve and 9:00am on Christmas Day. The service at 11pm is a traditional service whilst the service at 9am on Christmas day has a more contemporary flavour. On New Year’s Eve, there will be one service only at 9:00am.