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Viewpoint from Rev Albert Cadmore 08/01/2016 

ALBERT CADMORERev Albert Cadmore

As we look forward to the New Year, it is inevitable that we do so, holding in mind the concerns for the present and memories of the recent past. 2015 was a sad and difficult year for so many, and for all of us, the menacing threat of the impact of acts of terrorism from ISIS related groups, was never far from our minds. The ongoing human tragedy of the refugees fleeing Syria, so vividly brought home to us via our TV screens, often leaves us feeling sad and helpless

Refugees and homeless people have been on our minds and on our TV Screens in the news during the Christmas season, perhaps more so than ever before, and this has led me to reflect on the fact that on the first Christmas, Mary and Joseph were in that same situation; homeless refugees seeking shelter, who went on to flee to Egypt because of the danger of persecution by Herod

dove leftIn his Christmas sermon, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, made reference to the fact that, ‘across the Middle East, ISIS and others claim that this is the time of an apocalypse, an unveiling created of their own terrible ideas, one which is igniting a trail of fear, violence, hatred and determined oppression.’ He added, ‘because of them the Christians face elimination in the very region in which Christian faith began’

Justin Welby likened ISIS to King Herod, who sensed that the tiny, helpless, vulnerable child was the ultimate threat to his power and authority and, having heard about the birth of Jesus, saw him as a threat and responded by ordering the annihilation of all infant boys in the neighbourhood around Bethlehem. Meanwhile the simple, everyday shepherds somehow understood and marvelled at his birth. The Archbishop stated, "In the events of Jesus' birth, Herod and the shepherds are defined by their response to Jesus. Today, we are each defined by our response to Jesus." His words issue a challenge for all of us who call ourselves Christian. How do we respond to the dark and dangerous world in which we live today?

Dove rightA simple response would be, that we need to hold firm to our faith and set out to follow the teaching and example of the one the prophet Isaiah had proclaimed as, The Prince of Peace. But it is worth reflecting on how, in the Queen’s Christmas Message, she acknowledged that the world has had to confront moments of darkness this year, and stated, that, ‘the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it".’ She reflected on the fact that for Joseph and Mary, the circumstances of Jesus's birth, in a stable, were far from ideal, and recalled how worse was to come as the family was forced to flee the country, as she said, "It's no surprise that such a human story still captures our imagination and continues to inspire all of us who are Christians, the world over"

Also in her message, the Queen said, "There's an old saying that 'it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness'", and she added, "There are millions of people lighting candles of hope in our world today"

In the name of The Prince of Peace, such candles of hope can provide us all with an image of peace, compassion, justice and hope for our troubled world in 2016