Making room for others this Christmas


Archbishop Stephen shares a Christmas message in today's York Press

For all the millions of pounds spent by retailers on Christmas adverts this year, for me, it’s a £700 video posted by a little pub in Northern Ireland that is really worth watching. 
The lovely two-minute film created by Charlie's Bar in Enniskillen has gone viral on social media, warming the hearts of millions of us.
It is easy to see why.
Soundtracked by Birdy’s song, People Help The People, it tells the simple but profound story of an isolated and grieving elderly man being befriended and shown love by a couple - and their dog, Missy.
The video finishes with these words from the poet, WB Yeats: "There are no strangers here, only friends you haven't yet met".
I think this helps get to the heart of what Christmas should all be about. Not rampant consumerism or time spent just pleasing or receiving ourselves - but finding opportunities to offer kindness and loving compassion to those in need.
To be givers, sharers and peacemakers.
Alongside the joy and celebration, the Christmas story is a challenging, earthy one. It is threaded with a life-changing message of light and hope. 
God came into the world as a tiny, defenceless baby. 
Mary and Joseph needed help from all kinds of unlikely people.
It is a reminder - in a world that is often full of hatred, selfishness and greed - that God calls everyone of us to live His way. A way marked by generosity, forgiveness and hospitality.
Ministering in York and North Yorkshire this year, I’ve seen countless examples of this way in action. 
Of people helping people in the most Christ-like way. 
I read in this paper recently that we have our own real-life version of the Charlie’s Bar video. 
Wael Garas will be opening his restaurant, Middle Feast, in Lendal, from 12pm to 2pm on (December 25) to dish out free takeaway meals to people away from their families, including emergency service workers and refugees who have left loved ones overseas.  
Wael told The Press that helping others was a key part of his Christian faith.
“I do it for myself and my God,” he said.
What a wonderful example to us all.
So amidst all the fun and festivities, I pray - like Wael - that we all find inspiration from the Christ-child - and offer help and hospitality to people everywhere.
Happy Christmas!

2 min read