Dear Friends

Dear Friends

Written address from our Minister Revd. Bill Bowman

Bah!! Humbug!!

“Bah!! Humbug!!”

These words we associate with the character of Ebenezer Scrooge in the Charles Dickens novel, “A Christmas Carol”.  This expression and calling someone a “bit of a Scrooge” are commonly used idioms to describe people who don’t enter into the Christmas celebrations with much enthusiasm.

Odd as it may seem, in days gone by some branches of the church used to try to obliterate Christmas from the Christian calendar.  When Oliver Cromwell was ruler of England during the Commonwealth Period from 1649-1660 enjoying Christmas was actively discouraged and celebrating it could land you in prison or the incurring of a heavy fine.  The first Puritan colonists who sailed from England to America in the 17th century took their anti-Christmas ideas with them and a law was passed in Massachusetts specifically outlawing Christmas festivities. Markets and shops were ordered to stay open on 25th December and anyone taking “time out” to celebrate Christmas would be liable to prosecution and these kill-joy laws were rigorously enforced.  “Bah!! Humbug indeed!!” you might say.

Closer to our own times some politicians and local councils have tried to extricate Christ from Christmas and turn it into some secular meaningless mid-winter festival much as it was in pre-Christian times. Their reasoning is that a Christian Christmas might offend non-Christians.  What nonsense!!  Are we Christians offended by Jewish people celebrating Passover or Hanukkah or by Muslims fasting during Ramadan and celebrating Eid? Of course not, nor should we be.  Every faith should be free to celebrate their sacred festivals – except Christians it seems in the eyes of some PC mad councillors and politicians.  Would you believe in 2003 the Scottish Parliament even banned its officials from sending Christmas cards with a religious theme?  What next!!

Back at the time of the very first Christmas, King Herod nearly succeeded in annihilating Christmas once and for all when he attempted to kill the Baby Jesus.  Jesus survived Herod’s cruel wrath and he will survive the idiotic ideas of the politically correct today.  God in Jesus came to Earth not to kill joy but to bring joy!!  A joy and a peace that this world cannot give.

To my mind the coming of Jesus into the world as a baby born in a stable in Bethlehem is the most amazing and totally correct reason for a celebration there has ever been. It is not just OK to celebrate it’s right!!

Jesus came to live and love, teach and heal, die and rise again – all for us.  He offers us life in all its fullness in this world and beyond.  He shows us how to live together in harmony, to do justly and to treat others fairly.  What’s not to celebrate?

It’s good to eat, drink and party but the true celebration of Christmas is in paying homage to our wonderful Saviour and committing to follow his way of love.

“Come and join the celebration – it’s a very special day!!

Marion and I wish you all a very “Happy Christmas!!”

Shalom,

 

Truth

It is 100 years ago this year that the United States entered the First World War on the Allied side. It was a US Senator, Hiram Johnson (1866-1945) of California who in 1917 observed “The first casualty of war is the truth.” Ironically Johnson died on 6th August 1945 the day the Allies dropped the … Continue reading Truth

Sukkot

We celebrated harvest at Emmanuel a little earlier than usual this year and I am grateful to everyone for their part in making it such a joyful celebration. In early October in the Jewish community another harvest festival called the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot in Hebrew, takes place. This is a week-long festival whose … Continue reading Sukkot

New Year?

September is the month of beginning again. Schools return, university terms start as do all the host of church and secular activities that take a summer break. September to me always seems a more sensible time to celebrate New Year than 1st January which was the date the Romans chose and we have followed on … Continue reading New Year?

The King’s Cave

During our recent holiday on the beautiful Isle of Arran among the places of interest Marion and I visited was what is known as, “The King’s Cave.” This is a cave where it is said in the year 1306, Scotland’s King Robert the Bruce, fleeing from the wrath of England’s King Edward the first, had” … Continue reading The King’s Cave

Politics?

As I write the General Election is over by less than a week and the Prime Minister is in the process of putting together an agreement with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to secure a parliamentary majority going forward. Needless to say the two sides don’t agree on everything and a compromise will have to … Continue reading Politics?

Fake News

Dear Friends, I am sure you don’t need me to tell you that this month, on Thursday the eighth, we have a General Election and all the main parties have been, for what seems an age now, wooing us for our votes. It is certainly not for me to tell you for whom to vote … Continue reading Fake News

Remember Watergate?

In June 1972 there was a break-in at the Democratic Party’s Headquarters located in the Watergate building in Washington DC. It went virtually  un-noticed at the time but due to the investigative journalism of two Washington Post reporters, involvement in the break-in was traced back to the White House. The attempt to cover up the … Continue reading Remember Watergate?

Snowdrops

At this time of year the snowdrops are in full bloom in the manse garden and they seem to get more and more each year. They remind me of my native, Ayrshire, as snowdrops grow in abundance there along the hedgerows and in the woods at this time of year. But the snowdrops also remind … Continue reading Snowdrops

Trade

I am writing this in the week in January when the Prime Minister has been making a major speech on the government’s Brexit strategy and the term “trade deal” has been bandied about freely. I am sure it wasn’t necessarily the intention of the PM but it is a timely reminder that “Fairtrade Fortnight” is  … Continue reading Trade

Standing on the threshold

I think this is the first time since I became your minister that I am writing my letter for the January magazine after Christmas. I thought the services over the Christmas period at both Elmers End and Emmanuel went well and it was wonderful to welcome so many who do not come to church at … Continue reading Standing on the threshold