Midlothian’s faith leaders have shared their Christmas messages with the Advertiser for this festive period.
Church of Scotland Lothian Presbytery Moderator Mark Nicholas said: “What does Christmas mean to you? What are the traditions you have as a family as you get ready for the big day, the food, the gifts, the favourite films, the trees, those decorations that have been with you for many years?
It is a wonderful time of year. Of all the festivals and holidays Christmas has the most extravagant trimmings. We all make an extra effort, taking time to be with one another and digging out that Christmas jumper.
“All over Midlothian people will be working to help their neighbours celebrate the season. The Midlothian Foodbank will be sharing Christmas hampers with over 200 families to help their celebrations. I want to thank you all for your continued support for the Foodbank.
“Come Christmas Day I will be sitting down with 80 other people after worship at Gorebridge Parish Church for a full Christmas dinner with people who have chosen to serve and share their Christmas day together with people from the wider community. Many of these people would be on their own or would be unable to prepare that meal for themselves if they weren’t with us.
“All of this preparation, celebrating and goodwill is rooted deep in our communities. It flows from God’s gift to us in Jesus, God among us, the Word made flesh. As the angel Gabriel said to Mary, ‘The Lord is with you’ (Luke 2.18). Grasping that truth makes the rest of the season make sense, it gives meaning to it all.
“I first found hope in Jesus on the 21 st December many years ago.
“However you celebrate, may you know for yourself the real gift at the centre of it all, God’s gift to us, his amazing son Jesus.”
Archbishop Leo Cushley, of the Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh, said: “Imagine being born in a stable. The conditions would be cramped, dark and dirty. And you’d have the unpleasant odour of farm animals to contend with! Christmas card images of the nativity, while often beautiful, airbrush what it was like. The reality is our Lord was born in abysmal conditions by today’s standards. I don’t know about you, but that makes me marvel.
“The lesson here is that we’d all do well to imitate such humility. Christmas is a special time for that, because it brings out the best in people. When we’re humble enough to put others’ needs ahead of our own, everyone benefits.
“There’s an annual rise in the number charitable donations each December. Churches and charities across Midlothian and beyond hold toy schemes so children can wake up to a present on Christmas morning.
“No matter how small the sacrifice – a charity tin donation, a coffee with someone who is lonely, a volunteering opportunity – we can all lend a hand. Humility is the basis for opening our hearts and the inspiration to serve others.
“The Blessed Virgin Mary is a model of humility. Her example of obedience to the will of God when she agreed to become the mother of Jesus stands starkly in contrast with today’s ‘me first’ culture.
“Now, over 2,000 years later, Christians across the world continue to celebrate the birth of our Saviour, in a stable in Bethlehem, in such humble conditions. They are inspired to imitate His mercy by being charitable.
“May your Christmas be filled with peace and joy.”