Presbyterian Herald December 2022/January 2023

Sarah Harding

30.11.2022 | Presbyterian Herald

The December 2022/January 2023 edition of the Presbyterian Herald is now available. Editor, Sarah Harding, introduces this month's edition.

Light in the darkness

Approaching Christmas is usually one of the most joyful times of the year. As we celebrate the birth of our Saviour and enjoy extra time with friends and family, there is a heightened sense of happiness and goodwill.

This year, however, that seasonal joy seems to be more difficult to find. With the cost-of-living crisis firmly taking a grip and endless news stories of war and strife throughout our world, these times seem uncertain and bleak.

One country that that is currently experiencing many challenges is Lebanon. With an inflation rate at over 150% for the second successive year, its financial issues are exacerbated by supporting many thousands of refugees who have arrived from neighbouring countries. Lebanon features in this year’s World Development Appeal and Richard Kerr highlights how some of the money raised will support a centre in Beirut that is making a real difference to children; providing education, food and care, all in the name of Jesus.

Closer to home, First Bangor Presbyterian is reaching out to local people to offer them a warm space this winter. Minister, Mairisine Stanfield, reports that the initiative to open the building during the week is just as much about combatting loneliness as it is about giving practical support. Underlying all of it is love: “…it’s about compassion and grace, and meeting people where they’re at…”

This is echoed in a piece by Deborah Sloan that acknowledges the pain and distress that many feel at this time of the year. She discusses the important subject of grief and loss and outlines ways churches can be more open to the challenges people face. She poignantly says, “To truly appreciate the hope of Christmas, we have to dwell in the darkness that precedes it.”

Paul Lutton’s reflection on a recent trip to Bethlehem shares this hope of light in the darkness. He ponders the brokenness of the modern city as it endures conflict, contrasting with its special place in history as the birthplace of our Saviour.

Moderator, Dr John Kirkpatrick, also makes reference to Bethlehem and the famous carol that bears its name. Encouraging us to embrace our vulnerability and encounter Jesus afresh this Christmas, he honours the One who ultimately sacrificed everything for us: “For the ‘hopes and fears of all the years’ to be met in him, it required…this vulnerable death.”

No matter how we feel this Christmas season, Jesus is still our Lord and he brings hope to every situation. As the band Rend Collective joyously declares in one of the songs reviewed this month: “You’re true in the light and true in the darkness.”

The Presbyterian Herald is the official magazine of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. It provides a forum for debate and discussion on a wide range of topics and aims to challenge and encourage Presbyterians, as well as inform them about what the wider Church is involved in. It has a readership in excess of 25,000 and is distributed throughout Ireland.

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