In his Christmas message The Bishop of Lichfield, the Right Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, says:
So often in the past year grace and truth seem to have been in short supply in some parts of our public and political life. The language we use toward one another and about one another has been bitter, vindictive and hurtful. Fake news has been promoted, and fake allegations of fake news have been common. On social media in particular, the cloak of anonymity has meant that people seem to lose all restraint in attacking those with whom they disagree. 2017 has in many ways been the Year Of The Troll.
But at the same time as I have travelled around the Diocese of Lichfield I have come across so many places where people treat one another with kindness and care. For example, in Wolverhampton alone there are 15 Places of Welcome, where people can drop into a church or community centre or mosque for a cup of tea and a friendly conversation. In North Shropshire and beyond , a network of over sixty churches have trained to be dementia friendly, carefully listening to and caring for those struggling with that debilitating condition. In Stoke, a partnership of school and church is providing language support, counselling, debt management advice and good food to people struggling with many pressures in their family lives.
We have a choice. We can treat one another as a threat, abuse those who are different from us, misrepresent peoples motives and spread lies about them; or we can follow a better way, reaching out to others with care, attention and service. If that sounds simple, it is; and it is the simple message at the heart of the Christmas festival. As a Christian, I believe that God really has come to us, and still comes to us, to share our life and give us a better way of living. The Gospel of John says: Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. May you know that grace and truth this Christmas time.