Christmas message 2011, by the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy.
My reflections on Christmas this year are shaped by a very recent visit to the Anglican Church in Kenya in the diocese of Kajiado.
We visited an urban development project in Nairobi, where a community of people have been rebuilding their lives after they were displaced from their makeshift homes. They have rebuilt both their community and their homes. Their new homes are built with corrugated iron and contained mere scraps of furniture.
I was profoundly challenged by these people who had nothing in terms of possessions. They asked me to dedicate their water tanks and drain pipes, and amidst their poverty they had a joy and hospitality that was overwhelming. I enjoyed a mug of tea as I was received into one of their homes.
The local church was part of this rebuilding and is valued as being key to future development. The church was incarnating the presence of Jesus and facilitating this community to help itself.
We also took part in a programme of food distribution that was facilitated by the church and government officials. The local community decided who needed the food most and we helped distribute it.
The people were so dignified and grateful. It was humbling to be there and yet disturbing that people should be without the basic essentials. Again the local church was incarnating the presence of Jesus.
The first Christmas was the moment in history when God came into the chaos and pain of our world to bring hope and love. That first Christmas took the ordinary and made it special. The love of God is not just a concept or words that are printed in tracts, it is something that became a child and lived among us.
Too often the Christian church talks the talk but fails to walk the walk. The first Christmas reminds us of the need not just to talk about love but to make it real by our actions and lives.
May you know the love made flesh this Christmas and may you share it with those in need and pain.