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The Very Revd Canon Margi Campbell, Provost of St John’s Episcopal Cathedral
‘Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King……’
‘We have many angels in St John’s Cathedral! Paper angels, which have sat among’t us throughout the pandemic to keep us safely distanced. Paper angels, helping us think of those not sitting with us, helping us to be thankful beyond words for families and friends and all who have cared for us by their daily work in hard times.
‘But through the centuries, angels have been heralds of the glorious message that, despite all the darkness and difficulties around us, God still breaks through with glimmers of hope and streams of light like the dawn of a new day.
‘With rising cases of Covid, our paper angels will continue to help us be thankful, and will keep us distanced in care for each other. And as we approach Christmas, I pray that you will hear the glorious songs of those first angels in your hearts, singing tidings that today God offers us the wonder of new life. Angels telling us that we can have hope through the birth of Jesus; hope seen through those around who care and show love.
‘So with the angels, we pray that you will know joy and be blessed this Christmas and throughout 2022.’
Lord Wallace, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
‘It can be no coincidence that the Church chose the Winter Solstice to celebrate the birth of Christ.
‘At the darkest time of the year the light shines; for only when it is darkest are we open to see the light.
‘The light that shines in the darkness is not an overwhelming light.
‘It is not a ten-thousand-megawatt super spotlight, so bright that it obliterates the darkness.
‘Nor is it the great displays which light up our town and city centres.
‘The light that shines in the darkness is more like the faint glimmer of a single candle.
‘It is a light so tiny that it can be noticed only in the darkest times.
‘It needs the darkness to be seen.
‘The Church has been reminded by its prophets that the big powerful light is not the way Christ reveals the Divine presence.
‘The stories of the birth of Jesus show us a very small light.
‘This light is revealed to a young woman in the middle of nowhere who is shocked that God would choose her.
‘OK, a squad of angels may have lit up the night-sky but isn’t it more moving to think of birth by candlelight in a byre?
‘This light is presented to subsistence-living shepherds, huddling by the light of a small fire, who cannot fathom that they would be the ones to see the sign and tell the story.
‘The Christmas story is a humble story.
‘The light comes to those who have nothing to offer or so they think.
‘The light is not overbearing.
‘It is a glimmer of promise in a dark time.
‘And in the darkness, a tiny light can be seen from a long way away.
‘The spiritual rigor to which we are called during this Advent season, is to set aside all the things which can pre-occupy us in the run-up to Christmas and to recognise what is really important.
‘We are to allow ourselves to be lifted up by the expectation of Christ, Christ who is present and active.
‘Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
‘As we know if we are honest, it is often only in the darkest moments, only when we have hit the bottom, only when we realise we cannot do it on our own, that we can see the true light that is the light of the world.
‘It is the light of a single candle.
‘A light which the darkness has never extinguished.
‘And it is all we need.
May I wish you a joyful and blessed Christmas.’
Rev Dugald Cameron, Minister of Appin and Lismore
On Christmas Eve the parish churches of Appin and Lismore each welcomed people through the doors to sing carols, along with the angels, in praise of God, who drew near in Christ’s birth.
All through 2022 an angel will be visiting the homes of people of both parishes.
She is a candle carrying wee statue angel. And like Biblical angels she will provoke talk of God. Questions arise. Visitors may ask the recipient ‘Why is she here?’ Or, ‘To whom will she go next?’. Meanwhile, the folk of the home in which she stays for a week may find her a prayerful presence. And they will care that their choice of the person or family to receive her next will be similarly blessed.
Our hope is that the strong bonds of community which exist here may be woven stronger by a spiritual, prayerful connectedness enhanced by a year’s journeying.
Our angel’s route is unplanned. She will venture according to where she may be needed or celebrated. That is a reminder to us all that the love of God falls upon humanity not according to our plan, rather through God’s initiative. So may we look out from the relative safety of our homes and churches to refugee camps and homeless shelters where God already is, and where human angels of mercy are needed.
Kilninver and Kilmelford parish
From Kilninver and Kilmelford Parish Christmas Greetings to all Oban Times readers.
We send special best wishes and thanks to all the ministers and worship leaders who have helped with our fortnightly services, throughout our period with no minister.
Also thanks to Winnie Campbell Robb, our stalwart organist, who provides beautiful music at every service and really brings the church alive.
After initial lockdown closures we resumed gathering for worship in Kilmelford church car park – with strict social distancing. Now back inside Kilmelford church for services at noon, but sadly Kilninver church will remain closed at least until the spring.
It is cheering that XPlorers has restarted; a monthly group for younger children which began with a Christingle service. There will be a Christmas Day service will be held in Kilmelford church, at an earlier time of 11am.
For 2022 we send Happy New Year to all. Trust in the Lord for guidance and support.
Please see our website for future events www.netherlornchurches.org.uk
Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, Bishop Brian McGee
This year has been another difficult run up to Christmas. Once more we are suddenly faced with a new and rampant Coronavirus variant. The effects are multiple including the threat to health, anxiety and the prospect of changing our plans to be with loved
ones. Glimpses of a new dawn of normality seem to be extinguished.
Yet even in the darkness of this winter a bright light shines. That light is Jesus. At the first Christmas God took on our human nature to redeem us from the greatest darkness, the evil of sin.
The warmth of God’s love continues to shine so brightly that it will always dispel the darkness of sin as well as other deep shadows including the coldness that fear and anxiety brings.
In the beginning of his Gospel St John taught that Jesus is the true light which has come into the world. Sometimes we are tempted to separate ourselves from Christ relying on our own powers.
However, inevitably such detachment only creates deeper darkness. Jesus is the Light we long for. Jesus desires for us to walk in the light of his love. This Christmas let us allow Jesus to drench us in the warmth and brightness of his love!
I wish you and your family a happy and loving Christmas.