The Vicar writes...
Last month's election of President-elect, Donald Trump, and the British brexit vote earlier in the summer have sent shock waves through the corridors of power on both sides of the Atlantic.
Though many welcome both electoral decisions there are others who clearly do not. The two contests were close calls and both countries appear to be more divided than they were before going to the polls.
There are many possible reasons for the British deciding to withdraw from the European experiment and for the American electorate to opt for a relative newcomer to the political arena. Most commentators suggest that underlying both votes is a growing disillusionment with the ruling elite in America, Britain and in Europe.
All this comes in the wake of unprecedented austerity measures following the banking crisis of several years ago. Despite being told that "We're all in this together" there has been the perception that the politicians, the bankers and the wealthy have not suffered from the cutbacks as working people have. It is these ordinary people who have hit back with their ballot papers.
Much will be expected from President Elect Trump and from those who will broker the brexit deal for the U.K.. Support for a new way of doing politics can wane as quickly as it was given. There is a sense that we need to watch this space.
This month the Church keeps the two interrelated seasons of Advent and Christmas. During the run up to December 25th we reflect on the prophetic call to 'Prepare the way of the Lord'. Advent is a solemn season where expectation is mingled with judgement. We reflect on the lives of those who helped to prepare the way for the coming of the Saviour - the patriarchs, the prophets, John the Baptist and the Blessed Virgin Mary. They were all very different people united in their 'yes' to God's calling on their lives. The observance of Advent is in stark contrast to what is going on around us as our consumer led society celebrates 'X'mas.
During the season of Christmas we celebrate with joy the coming of the Savour. All Saints' is packed with worshippers who come to raise the roof with Carols proclaiming the new king's birth. The Christmas event still has a draw on the vast majority of people despite the so called rise of secularism.
One of the aspects of the Christmas story we can sometimes lose sight of is that Jesus was born to be king. This is foretold by the great prophet Isaiah who spoke of how a virgin would conceive and bear a child who would be 'Prince of Peace' and 'Emmanuel - God is with us'. It's the good news the angels declared to the lowly shepherds on the hillsides around Bethlehem. It's why the wise men from the east came looking for the 'New born King of the Jews', which unnerved the local despot Herod.
But Jesus the King of Kings and Lord of Lords was not born in a clinically clean maternity unit. He was laid in an animal feeding trough rather than a brand new cot from Mothercare. He and his family became refugees for several years, seeking asylum in Egypt. When he grew up he mingled with ordinary people rather than the religious and political elite. His teaching about the Kingdom of God was revolutionary. He spoke words of peace, healed the sick and taught about God's reconciling love for the world. When he eventually wore a crown it was one of thorns rather than gold. He became the Servant King and Risen Lord.
For the Christian the coming of Jesus which we celebrate at Christmas impacts on every aspect of human life and society. His is the greatest example of leadership humans can follow. As we enter a new era of politics we would do well to set before us the way of the 'Prince of Peace' which renounces all the trappings of worldly power, the instruments of dominion, force and arrogance, and reigns instead with the power of love and truth.
Nadolig Llawen - Happy Christmas