Facebook is full of people talking about their Christmas shopping, their excitement at the forthcoming celebrations. I am surprised by how organised everyone appears to be, and the effort they put into the present buying. I am writing this article while I watch Children in Need and I am thinking about all the people in Need this Christmas and what they are all doing around the world while we all collect our gifts ready to give presents.
While in this country we prepare for Christmas by shopping and partying, elsewhere it is not such a easy ride to Christmas.
I wonder what people in Gaza and Israel are hoping for this Christmas, perhaps to be still alive, not to have lost a family member or members in the violence.
I wonder what those in Syria will be thinking about as the violence ripes the country apart.
The churches in Nigeria, will they be able to celebrate without being blown up, killed or kidnapped.
And what about those troops celebrating christmas away from their families in a land full of danger
What about all those effected by the revelations about Jimmy Saville. They will be hoping for justice and to be finally believed after all these years. There are also many people, for whom the revelations about Jimmy Saville will bring unpleasant reminders of events in their own life. Emotions that were once buried now returning to haunt them.
We seem to constantly be failing children in our society, hear in Doncaster, recent reports show there is still an institutional failure by the council to have sound and safe ways to keep children in need - quite simply safe and sound. However, we have also seen what happens when common sense is not heeded by the false accusations leveled at Lord McAlpine.
The vast vast majority of people adore children but sadly there is a minority that prey on children and their vulnerability. all of us need a good mix of common sense and vigilance at all times.
The heart of Christmas is of course not the richness and comfort of our own lives but the poverty of a child born to parents who had no where to sleep so they ended up bunking in with the domesticated animals. The story of a child born in poverty and who then died as man in captivity will be repeated around the world in the time between now and Christmas and will continue into the future, repeated over and over again.
God does not come to us in shopping centers, nor in the rich and famous, neither does God come all neatly wrapped up in posh paper. God came as one of the weakest in society to show us that true power is found in grace and mercy not in rockets and bombs. He came as a baby to show us to value the weakest above the strong, surely if we can do this then that is the greatest safeguard for us all.