Monthly Message I begin my letter this December with the words of a much loved and well known Christmas carol: Hark! The herald angels sing “Glory to the newborn king.  Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” I wish it were so. It is more than 2000 years since the angels appeared to the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem proclaiming the good news of peace, but today tensions are high between Palestinians and Israelis near Bethlehem and wars and fighting are still happening in many parts of the world.   The final verse of the carol tells us that Jesus is the Heaven-born Prince of Peace. But human beings do not seem to appreciate the peace that God is offering – instead we continue to fight wars. Just a few weeks ago Turkish forces used chemical weapons against civilian Kurds as part of their “ethnic cleansing” of part of North-Eastern Syria. Why is nobody listening to the song that the angels sing? “Hark” is an out-of-date word. Perhaps they think that the message is old-fashioned and therefore irrelevant. Hark is an instruction, a command meaning “Listen” or “pay attention.” It seems as though we pay more attention to the adverts on TV about Christmas shopping than we do to the timeless words of God through his messengers, the angels. In November I had the privilege of leading the Remembrance Day ceremony at the cenotaph in Eccles. The verse that I chose to preach about was “Blessed are the Peace-makers.” Sadly, many of the crowd did not listen to my message because they were angry about a disturbance caused by a homeless man in a nearby disused public house. In their eagerness to inflict violence upon a man who had done something stupid they caused more distraction than the original offence.  Anger leads to escalation and drowns out the message of peace and reconciliation. It is hard to get through to people who do not want to hear about Jesus and his life-changing good news. But we can make sure that we are listening. If we hear the words of God and live them out in practice perhaps the example of our lives will shout loudly enough for others to stop and take notice. Let’s reflect this Christmas on how we have been reconciled to God through his Son; how we have experienced peace in place of anxiety and struggle. Let’s be thankful and joyful as we celebrate the yearly festival of the New-Born King. Yours in Christ