Displaying items by tag: Christmas
From Passion for the Nation: ‘“Lift up your eyes and look at the fields; they are already white for harvest” (John 4:35). We thank You, Father God, for every promise given to us for revival and awakening, and for those who have already come to know You. We thank You, Lord, for anointing us to preach good tidings to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and open the prison to those who are bound (Isaiah 61:1). We pray for a new season of evangelism, and for your people to see what You see. Raise up those who will speak to individuals and the crowds, and strategic evangelistic programmes. In this Christmas season, we pray God’s word will be spoken with boldness and clarity, sensitivity and wisdom, and the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be heard. We speak the revelation of Jesus into the lives of individuals, families, communities and cultures.’
Born and raised in Bethlehem, Grace teaches at Bethlehem Bible College and serves her local church. The Holy Land’s Christian population is just 1%. Grace said, ‘Today in Bethlehem, as Christianity continues to dwindle, we trust that the Lord will not leave Himself without a witness in this land. This year, my niece will be Mary in our church’s nativity play. As we watch the children join her as shepherds, wise men and angels, our hearts will be strengthened to know that Christianity still remains the heartbeat of this region, despite its decreasing percentage.
A Marks and Spencer Christmas jumper has become a hit among female clergy, with some calling it the ‘Christmas clergy uniform’ of 2021. The £19.50 jumper is in M&S's Christmas clothing range. It is black and has the word ‘Believe’ written in bold colourful text on the front. Using the hashtag #TeamBelieve, female vicars and lay people have taken to social media sharing their pictures wearing the jumper on top of their clerical collar. 'Christmas jumper' was last week's top search on M&S.com.
The Church of England has released a Christmas single as part of a campaign to encourage more people to hear the real Christmas story through their local church. The single, a new carol version of In the Bleak Midwinter by one of the country’s top young composers, Rebecca Dale, will form the soundtrack to this year’s CofE Christmas campaign. It was released on all streaming platforms on Wednesday 1 December and can be downloaded online. All royalties from the digital streams and downloads of the track will be donated to charity, helping people experiencing homelessness in the UK. The Archbishop of Canterbury said that we often dress Christmas up with trimmings, but they are not the heart of Christmas. The only thing that makes Christmas perfect is Jesus, and the only thing we need to give him and each other is our hearts.
As we prepare for a different Christmas, thousands of families will be carrying the mental exhaustion of an unwelcome guest - debt. Debt erodes confidence and brings a whole host of stresses, and strains this festive season. Furlough, income reduction, job losses have all taken their toll. The recent collapse of Debenhams and Arcadia put a further 25,000 jobs at risk, on top of the thousands of jobs already hanging by a thread. Our poorest communities are hit hardest, with little or no savings to fall back on, and are unable to cope with the income shocks that this year has brought. Heating or eating is a brutal choice for many families. Pray that those struggling with financial problems and feeling isolated will realise that they are not alone and there is no shame in needing debt advice. May those needing such advice be put in touch with the agencies who are able to support them.
Across Europe there will be further lockdowns, curfews and travel bans as the number of people infected with Covid has increased. Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte summed it up when he told Italians to expect a ‘more sober Christmas, without Christmas Eve gatherings, hugs and kisses’. We can pray for people to honour the various restrictions on public gatherings and to obey curfews where they have been imposed. Pray particularly for friends and families to exercise restraint on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Pray also for countries which will be easing restrictions prior to Christmas; may the public act wisely to avoid any further unnecessary sickness and deaths. See The EU drug regulator will meet on 21 December to decide whether to authorise the jab after desperate EU countries said the agency risked losing the trust of EU citizens if it did not act fast.
Geporge Eustice, the environment secretary, has said it's too early to say what Covid rules will be in place by Christmas. He warned that people ‘may not be able to get together in the larger groups that they normally would’. Opposition parties have called for coronavirus rules to be the same across all four UK nations this Christmas. Sage member Sir Mark Walport has said there is little to feel reassured about. He added that there are still many vulnerable people, and ‘it's certainly not unrealistic to think there could be 25,000 people in hospital with Covid by the end of next month. We are better at treating coronavirus but the country is still relatively early in the second wave and there is a significant lag between getting the infection and potentially dying.’
Boris Johnson has warned actions to stop a second surge of coronavirus must be ‘tough now’ in order to ‘protect’ Christmas. His words came as stricter new measures are announced for areas where cases are on the rise. The PM said people have to be ‘both confident and cautious’ and that it is ‘crucial’ the country does not re-enter ‘some great lockdown again that stops business from functioning’. He told the Sun newspaper that the Government wants to protect Christmas: ‘We want everyone to have a fantastic Christmas. But the only way to make sure the country is able to enjoy Christmas is to be tough now. He wants us to grip it now and stop surges. The communities secretary said on 17 September, ‘Over the course of the day a full briefing will be made available to everybody including the councils and business community’. Earlier in the week many were sceptical of new measures: see next article.
Shelter revealed that 135,000 children are homeless in Britain, one in 200 people in England are without a settled home, and 280,000 people are recorded as homeless. However, the charity pointed out that these statistics could be the tip of the iceberg, with hidden homelessness and rough sleeping difficult to document accurately. The scale of the challenge that Boris Johnson’s new government must face is daunting. Pray for government action to address the lack of social homes. A spokesman for the ministry of housing said, ‘Everyone should have somewhere safe to live, and councils have a duty to provide accommodation to those who need it, including families with children’. There are 1,450 Big Issue sellers working on the streets each week. Homelessness blights lives, leaving lasting imprints of trauma, and many are only days away from becoming homeless.
A study by the British Retail Consortium predicts an additional £2billion in seasonal shopping compared to last year, and expects the average household to spend over £500 this Christmas. Becky Denharder, for Care for the Family, says that Christmas does not have to be an expensive occasion, and urges Christians not to get ‘carried away’ over the festive season. Although it is ‘fun to spend money’ on our families, it all ‘adds up’, so she encourages us to ‘work within our means.’ ‘I think sometimes parents feel pressure to buy for their kids and we feel pressure to buy for colleagues and lots of different people,’ she added. ‘There are more long-lasting ways to bless our families. We don't often remember our Christmas gifts, but we do remember the memories. We remember the traditions that we take part in, and those are the memories that stick.’