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Ministers’ Letter

December 2022

Dear friends,

Who will be at the heart of your Christmas celebration? This question feels poignant in light of the cost of living crisis which may constrain our usual Christmas celebrations. Some people may feel these constraints will rob this Christmas of much of its joy.

The recent circuit gathering to look at how we can respond to the cost of living crisis was hopeful rather than depressing. We recognised the real issues affecting many people as they struggle with rising food and energy prices – and yet, there was a real desire to be alongside other people in their struggles and to support where we can. We spoke about our church activities being available to local people and pointing them to other sources of support. There were fresh ideas, such as partnering with laundrettes to offer people support with the cost of cleaning clothes. We considered how we could work together as a circuit to support the work of the Wednesday Club at West Croydon, providing food and toiletries to local people. We know that our resources are limited and may be stretched more thinly by the current circumstances, but there was a real desire to support where we can.

The desire to be engaged and supportive during a time when so many are facing challenges and struggles reminds us of the birth of Jesus, the heart of Christmas. “And she (Mary) gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them” (Luke 2:7). Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem only to find that the traditional places of hospitality in their culture weren’t available. They had to rely on other spaces instead. Those who offered their stable to Mary and Joseph knew it was not the ideal choice for a couple expecting their child imminently, but they offered what they could that was available.

Jane reminded me of her experience of receiving hospitality in the village of Bolobo in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite their struggles, the villagers gave Jane a meal of nuts and bananas. She was nourished and blessed as they offered what they could.

Even though Christmas may look and feel different from other years, may we offer what we can to support and encourage others in this challenging time.

I pray we will be surprised by joy and wonder as we open ourselves to be alongside others this Christmas and throughout the winter.

I pray you and your family will know the blessing of the Christ child this Christmas, the Son of God born in a manger.