The Mayor’s message from the Knutsford Crib Service 2021
I am very pleased that this year we can hold this crib service in person, rather than having to record something for viewing on-line. Albeit a few issues with our technical support have meant a few last-minute improvisations.
I would like to thank our clergy, Cheshire Brass, and the children of St Vincent’s Primary for the parts they will play in this afternoon’s event. But each of you has a role to play by join in the Carols – the words are on your sheets.
It has become a tradition that the Town Mayor gives a Christmas address as part of the service, and I do not intend to stop that now. But before I share with you my thoughts about Christmas 2021, I need to announce something that is happening for the first time this year, but which I very much hope will become a tradition.
Once the crib has been blessed, after we have listened to the readings, carols, and prayers, instead of heading off into the night we are all invited to share a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine and engage in conversation with each other.
This invitation comes from the Knutsford Cateneans who want to say a big thank you to all those NHS personnel, carers and volunteers who gave so tireless for others during the months of the Pandemic. I will not explain who or what the Cateneans are, but it is thanks to this organisation’s generosity that we in Knutsford have a crib on display in public view.
Turning to the crib, I recognise some may consider having such an overtly Christian symbol displayed in public might be offensive to those of other faiths or none. But I have to say that I disagree with such negativity.
Firstly, however secular our society may have become, we have to recognise that same society was built over many centuries upon Christian principles which help form the foundations of our legal system, and which still prevail today.
Secondly many of those people who live in Britain today from other cultures, will include people from several other Christian-majority countries. Additionally, this scene depicts the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a child born into the Jewish faith and seen as a Prophet by Islam. While many of the tenets of faith and patterns of good living are shared by a panoply of other faiths too.
However, the main reason why I would challenge the view that it could cause offence, is because of the underlying message that sits behind the images presented to us and that is a profound message of Love and the power this has to enrich all our lives.
We see not just the natural love of a mother for her child, and the love of a man for his wife, though some may ask what kind of love possessed Joseph to take his heavily pregnant wife on such a perilous journey. But love is also shown in the kindness of the inn keeper who provided shelter for the desperate young family.
Then there is the love of the Shepherds, who we are told left the sheep they were charged with caring for (another form of love) to witness something they probably didn’t really understand but they knew was very important. If we consider the wisemen (or Magi) who we are told came to ‘adore’ (also an expression of love) the long-promised special child, they had read about and seen prophesised in the stars.
This shows in various guises the love of humans for each other and that’s before we consider the more miraculous and mystical aspects of the story, and the fundamentals of every Christian belief that this child is the Son of God – given as the Saviour of his creation; the World. A God who it is said so loved the World that he gave his only son as its redeemer.
So, whether you share my belief in what this crib represents or not, I challenge you not to recognise in this depiction of the nativity scene some aspect of the love, I have referred to, somehow evident in your own lives.
Were you not loved unconditionally as a small child? As an adult have you not known and shared love with another person like that between Mary and Joseph? Have you never experienced the kindness of strangers, if not the unquestioning love of the Shepherds or the adoration shown by the Magi?
Therefore, this Christmas I ask you to look at this crib, to consider the various forms of love depicted by these figures. Then, to recall a time when you were truly loved and to find a way this Christmastime of giving that love to someone else.
On Christmas Day I have been invited to join Knutsford Lions at the Welcome Café, where they will be providing a turkey dinner and company to some of the Town’s Senior Citizens, who would otherwise be alone.
This group of volunteers will be giving up a significant part of their day in a collective act of love; something the Knutsford Lions have been doing for many years; albeit adapting the delivery when circumstances required.
But before I step too readily on the toes of the various ministers of religion present, I’d like to express my love for this Town and for everyone who lives here, by wishing you all and those who you love a very Happy Christmas and a sincere hope that the New Year will bring you your own heart’s desire.