This has been quite a year.
The murder of MP Jo Cox, the vote for Brexit, the election of Donald Trump.
And the unfolding tragedy of the war in Syria and most of all in Aleppo.
Given all that has happened, what can the message of the angels announcing the birth of Jesus, “Peace on earth and good will to all”, possibly mean for you and me?
Jesus himself was born into an occupied country, one ruled through fear and military power by the Romans, and the people of Israel were longing for a new time of peace and freedom from oppression.
It was into that situation that Jesus came and into that kind of world that Jesus speaks today.
The coming of Jesus makes it possible for a new kind of peace to come into the world.
Peace not in the sense of inner calm (though a bit of that can be very useful over Christmas) or a fragile truce in a war.
Rather a peace that comes through God’s love reaching first into our hearts and then overflowing to the world around us.
This is what Christmas is about: our receiving the love of Jesus Christ and passing it on to those around us.
It is about peace-building and the power to change things starting with you and me and the way we relate to the world around us – right here in Dewsbury and West Yorkshire. If we will hear and receive the message of the angels, then it can change the whole way we look at the world, changing our fear to hope and freeing us to be peace-builders in our communities and beyond.
May we know – and share – the peace of Jesus Christ this Christmas and in the year to come.