Christmas Appeal 2016
2nd December 2016 - by Stephen Awre
British Region Director Fr. Peter Hughes, in his Christmas Letter to Columban supporters, identifies with the hope in God’s promise of salvation that bore Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem and beyond, in spite of great hardship. Please support Columbans to journey with those in hardship today.
Dear Columban Friend,
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
1 Peter 1:3-4
Christmas, in many homes, is the highlight of the year, when family and friends come together to share food and exchange gifts. It is a time of great significance for us as Christians, when we celebrate together the joy of ‘God-with-us’ in the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Christmas is also a time when we reflect on the Holy Family, whose love for each other and faith in God helped them to overcome great trials and suffering.
This year we are conscious of the many homes where pressures on family life have never been greater because of worries about debt, financial insecurity, unemployment and working long hours just to make ends meet. All of these can become sources of tension and conflict, putting strains on relationships in the home. Outside the home, we are saddened by “the many injustices, wars, and humanitarian crises that still need resolution” (Pope Francis); appalled by the endless plight of migrant communities and worried about the post-Brexit era.
However, as Christians we have good reason to hope. Ours is a faith that looks forward to a time when God’s promises will be fulfilled, a future that we are all called to be part of creating. For role models, we need look no further than Mary and Joseph, who were chosen by God to be the instruments by which God’s promise of salvation would be fulfilled. This task was not easy.
Think of the shame endured by Joseph at marrying a woman with child, the arduous journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the cold and dirty stable, the fear of Herod’s wrath and the flight to Egypt. One can imagine the strain put on their relationship. Yet, as they looked down at their new-born son, they knew that the time for the fulfilment of God’s promises had finally come, and this joy-filled truth carried them through the hardship they experienced.
As missionaries, we have shared this Good News in 2016 with families devastated by a cyclone in Fiji and floods in Myanmar, families fearful of political oppression in the Philippines and the outcome of the USA election on the Mexico border. Let us celebrate Christmas as a here and now reality where Christ enters into the life of each one of us bringing “tidings of great joy” to overcome the difficulties we experience.
You are companions with us on the missionary journey, encouraging us along the way. We sincerely thank you for this. This year, we have been privileged to give the annual Mission Appeal in the Diocese of Westminster and in Scotland, and we are grateful to all for your hospitality and generous support.
Happy Christmas to all of you and may your New Year be filled with peace and joy.
Fr. Peter Hughes SSC
Regional Director for Britain