Bagshot Methodist Church
Bagshot Methodist Church has been a significant part of village life for more than a hundred years and is part of the Berkshire Surrey Borders Circuit of the Methodist Church.
Our Mission is: 'to live by faith, to be known by love and to be the voice of hope.'
A message from Rev. Sharon Gardner
O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
it is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'til he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;
Fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born.
O night, O holy night, O night divine.
So we draw to the close of another year and what a year of change and turmoil it has been. In February, despite the outcry and denouncement of most of the world, Russia invaded Ukraine, starting a war that is still ongoing. In July, after a premiership of three years, Boris Johnson was forced by scandal to resign, to be briefly replaced by Liz Truss before she too resigned amid a governmental crisis and Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister a few weeks later. In the midst of all this our country - and many other nations throughout the world - mourned the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
In an ironic juxtaposition of timings, Elon Musk completed his $44billion acquisition of Twitter whilst people were being warned of massive increases in energy bills, with serious concerns for some about how they would get through the winter and the very real choice between heating or eating. And the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 27) took place in November whilst the drought in East Africa entered its fourth year, causing hunger and desperation for 22 million people and fear of widespread famine.
It would be easy to get depressed thinking on these things, but alongside them we must recognise and celebrate the good. The way neighbouring countries - and our own – offered refuge to fleeing Ukrainians and aid to those who stayed behind. The ‘Warm Spaces’ initiatives that have sprung up to help people get away from the cold. The help that Food Banks and local charities like All Night Café and Besom continue to offer with food and shelter. And the wonderful celebration of the Queen’s life which twice brought communities together in a way we seldom see: once at her Platinum Jubilee and then, just three months later, at her funeral,
If this seems an odd Christmas message, well, the situations we find ourselves in personally, politically, nationally and internationally are part of an oft-repeated history. The birth of God’s Son did not occur in a warm, cosy, impossibly hygienic stable (despite what our Christmas cards and carols would have us believe). I have no doubt that for Mary and Joseph it was scary and raw with an edge of desperation. Stigmatised by scandal, weary from travel and with Mary in labour, would they find shelter in time? Politically, it was an uneasy period with Israel occupied by Roman military force. Locally, an insecure and jealous King Herod ordered an horrific infanticide to try to rout out the king he believed had been born to topple him. Unsafe to remain in their own country, the little family became refugees in a foreign land.
And yet, and yet, in the midst of it all there was hope. There was joy. There was peace. There was love. Jesus Christ, God’s own Son was born as one of us to live among us. The Light of the world came to scatter the darkness of this world, and the darkness in our own lives. He still comes today to bring hope and joy and peace and love, and a light that the darkness of sin and grief cannot comprehend nor extinguish.
May you find the holy One of God at the centre of you hearts and homes this Christmastime and may his hope, joy, peace and love fill you and lead you into 2023.
With every blessing,