Warmest Christmas greetings to all our readers

The Christmas tree on the road our of Oban.

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Rev Dugald Cameron (Kilmore and Oban)

What do you hope for from Christmas? A bath bomb and a bottle of Glayva!

I am giving away the manse secrets. Actually though, my wish came true when a couple of years ago I was given a Scotland football top and a book on steam trains – the same presents I received as a nine-year old!

What do you hope for from Christmas? Could it be found in a well wrapped present, or something deeper? For Advent and Christmas is a time of reflection – looking for hope. The nights have drawn in and correspondingly times are dark politically and ecologically, so we need hope.

Hope springs from an impulse of the heart and the search for God springs from an impulse of the heart. They may combine – the heart’s desire for God and for hope.

Christian faith asserts that these impulses for hope find a response from God. God reveals hope through symbols which move us deeply.

And these symbols do not arise simply from human speculation. We find God and hope in darkness and light, in mystery and learning, in that which is changeless and yet endlessly creative. We encounter hope having the form of the personal, and yet infinite and unbounded.

The Christian story is full of these discernments of where hope is to be found. Then they combine, bringing true hope in the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. And because of this, and these other glimpses of revelation, we have HOPE. Hope energises us to emerge from the dark into the light.

Chief Inspector Marlene Baillie, Area Commander for Mid Argyll, Kintyre, Oban, Lorn and the Isles.

At this time of the year everyone is really busy and there are lots to think about and organise.

It is so easy to forget to do the simple things that could help keep you safe over the festive period. I would urge people just to take a bit of time to ensure the basics when it comes to home, vehicle, internet and personal safety.

There will be lots of information circulated by Police Scotland over the weeks running up to Christmas which is designed to help people to avoid becoming victims of crime. I would ask people just to pay a wee bit more attention as everyone can be just that bit more vulnerable, as there is more money in circulation, more alcohol being consumed, more opportunities for scammers and those intent on committing crime to take advantage of.

I would also ask people to be mindful of the role of the emergency services at this time of the year. The police, ambulance, fire and rescue, Coastguard, lifeboats, care providers and NHS staff can all be working flat out during a period of very high demand. They also work on Christmas and New Year’s day helping to keep our communities safe during a time when most are with family and friends.

The festive period for a number of different reasons can be a crisis time and without the dedication and commitment of officers and staff throughout the emergency services people could be at risk of harm. I hope everyone across Argyll and Bute has a happy, healthy, safe and peaceful Christmas and New Year.

Douglas Small, president of Oban Rotary

Oban Rotary would like to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and to thank the Oban community for their generous support in helping us over the past year to raise funds for charitable and deserving good causes. 2019 has seen another successful year for our club.

We have raised £19,000 and have donated the best part of £25,000 to deserving individuals and good causes. We are particularly proud of how we have helped the younger members of the community and some of our older members.

Our senior citizens are looking forward to a Christmas lunch at the Oban Bay Hotel which is organised and sponsored by ourselves and the Crerar Hotels Trust.

We are proud to have helped our younger members in the community. We have sponsored some in their gap year; travelling abroad and helping in underdeveloped countries as well as extending their life experiences through sport and outward bound courses . In doing so we hope to have encouraged confidence in themselves.

In raising funds for our projects we organised the duck race in Oban, supported the Argyll Cycle Club race and ran the Am-Am golf competition. We are particularly grateful to those local businesses who supported the Am-Am and helped us to raise £11,000.

Deserving causes which we have supported over the past year include the Young Carers Initiative in Argyll and the Rockfield Community Centre in Oban. We have organised competitions in the primary schools in Argyll and in Oban High School. The list goes on.

On Sunday December 15, we organised a Christmas carol concert for our schools and community.

May I again thank all of those who have helped us to raise funds for such deserving causes.

Michael Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute

Even for a politician, 2019 has had too much politics in it. For me, working across the very big constituency of Argyll and Bute but also with responsibilities in the Scottish Government that take me to London, Brussels and other places on a regular basis, a few days not on the move is a great treat, as is the chance to turn my thoughts to something other than elections or Brexit.

This is the time to celebrate good  news, whether that be a matter of personal Christian faith, or simply enjoying the company of family and friends (or both) and  I am therefore also glad to have the opportunity to wish you and yours all the best for this season and for 2020.

I hope the New Year and the new decade will allow us all to discover  on a local and national level an ability to work with each other without rancour or bitterness, no matter how much we disagree,  and with a willingness to build something better than we have now – a community, a village, a town, a county, a constituency or a country that offers support for all, equal opportunity and active compassion for those who are less fortunate.

That surely is the real message of this season despite the political noises around us and it is one that we should all strive to make real in our lives for our own good as well as for the good of everyone else.

Councillor Jim Lynch

Christmas is a very special time for all of us, a time to spend with family and friends, reflect on a year passed and plan for the New Year ahead.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone across Oban, Lorn and the Isles a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Kay McDonald, BID4Oban

Merry Christmas and a very healthy, happy and peaceful New Year from everyone at BID4Oban.

It’s been a really hectic and busy year, in fact it only seems to have calmed down recently and not for very long as we now have the excitement of Christmas and New Year to look forward to.

2020 also promises much to look forward to, lots of cruise ships calling again, lots of events and music to look forward to and with 2020 being the Year of Coasts and Waters, I’m sure much of what’s being planned for next year will relate to the sea which is such an integral part of life in this area.

I’m hoping for another year in which Oban continues to grow and prosper and where we continue to welcome people from all around the world and try to make Oban a place where locals and visitors alike enjoy life and everything that the town and area have to offer.

Councillor Elaine Robertson

Wishing all in Oban, Lorn and the Isles a very happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year.

Bishop Brian McGee

One statement I don’t like is: ‘Christmas is all about the kids.’ It’s something I often hear at this time of year. Now, don’t get me wrong – I absolutely loved Christmas as a child and each year I find myself reliving many cherished memories.

Now, as an adult, I love seeing the excitement and joy of today’s children. So what’s my issue?

My problem is that by equating Christmas only for children we have reduced Christmas to presents, parties, lights and food. Now, again, I love the Christmas atmosphere of people coming together and having fun.

But, wonderful as partying is, is this all there is to Christmas? So what are we celebrating? It is good that family and friends gather together for fun but is there nothing more to Christmas?

Without a doubt, Christmas is a most wonderful time of the year. Christmas reveals that we are precious.

At the first Christmas, God took on human flesh to make us like God. Jesus loved us so much he was born in the stable to redeem us. From that moment, God would be with us in a new way. We would never be alone.

Christmas is a special time for everyone. I hope we all can enjoy its social moments but even more the beauty of encountering the love of Jesus in our hearts. Jesus was born for us all and so I wish each one of you, young and old, a happy and holy Christmas!

Councillor Andrew Vennard

I wish everyone in the Oban, Lorn and the Isles area, and also in the rest of Argyll and Bute, a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Right Reverend Kevin Pearson

Light a candle in a dark room and the flame may appear fragile but it is attractive. In the midst of the darkness, the pool of light provides an oasis of vision, warmth, security, peace.

The darkness loses its power to fill us with fear. The darkness remains around us but the fragile flame gives just enough light to take one step at a time, just enough warmth to encourage us to move, just enough security to make us feel we are not alone, there is hope.

Hope is what Advent is all about. In the darkness of a world in which there is so much suffering, the fragile flame of hope flickers in small acts of kindness and generosity. In the darkness and the shadows we feel inside us, the fragile flame of hope flickering to show us that peace comes not from the absence of violence or anger or hatred, hope comes when the fragile light of faith allows us to see that those shadows are just that – shadows caused by the light of love which burns within us, in the yearning to be held, to be secure, to know we are not alone.

That is the love Jesus was born to show in His story is my story in the love we share we know God for God’s love, whether we are always able to recognise that fact, that light or not.

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we remember. It took the might of the Soviet army to build the wall. It was demolished by old women and children, carrying candles.

Christmas blessings.

Councillor Kieron Green

As another year draws to a close, I look forward to spending time with family and friends. I want to give thanks though to those who will make it possible for us to enjoy being together – running ferries and gritting roads despite the weather, opening up shops so that we can get last-minute supplies, or delivering our gifts, to name but a few.

While staff working in our schools and (some) offices may be able to take a little well deserved time off, I pay particular tribute to people working throughout every day in hospitals, residential and nursing homes, and providing home care, and also of course to the members of the emergency services on duty. I hope they, too, will be able to find time to relax and see those who matter most to them.

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2020, whatever it may bring.