In his master’s steps he trod
A Christmas message from the chair of PCN Britain, Adrian Alker
The Christmas season, whilst providing wonderful opportunities for families to gather, for friends to meet, for children to bring delight to grandparents (like me!) and many other blessings, is of course a sad and challenging time for so many in our world and in our neighbourhoods.
You may already have someone in mind. For instance, there are those who will face Christmas grieving the loss of a loved one, those who depend on the charitable goodness of organisations to provide food and shelter. And across the continents, so many, young and old, caught up in the desperation and despair of conflict.
Many members of PCN who struggle with how so much of the Christmas story is represented in our churches will know that to ask the question of meaning in regard to the birth narratives of the gospels offers at least some acceptable way forward as we seek to share a credible Christian faith. We have to thank authors such as Crossan, Spong and Borg for much of this.
But may I commend that most famous of Christmas carols for us to sing loudly as our Network anthem this Christmas tide? Good King Wenceslas, based on the historical life of the tenth century Duke of Bohemia seems to me to be a thoroughly positive reminder, not only of a good ruler but of the centrality of compassionate care and love, exemplified in the life of Jesus.
‘In his masters steps he trod’ the carol declares of the king’s page. Excusing for a moment the language of hierarchy, Christians too claim to follow in the way of Jesus the Christ. In our PCN groups and gatherings we walk together, daring to hope for a world and indeed for an expression of Christianity where the footsteps of Jesus, his mark on this world, is made visible and real through our treading that same path.
Many of you who will read this message will already be busy helping others at this time of year, offering support to homeless and rootless people, showing friendship to refugees and asylum seekers and countless other acts of kindness. I am so grateful to belong to a network of people, who, guided by those Eight Points of our movement, affirm that following in the footsteps of Jesus leads us to act with compassion and to confront evil. So lets carry on through the ‘winter’s rage’ and against the strong winds which will no doubt shake us during the coming year, and boldly go on together.
I hope you may have a very special Christmas and enjoy singing Good King Wenceslas!