Moving Stories is the focus that the London District of the Methodist Church has chosen for itself for the next two years. The hope in doing so is that people in churches across London will engage with those in their communities (inside and beyond the church) and listen to stories that they have of migration - stories about people moving that are also moving stories in an emotional sense. Having heard these stories, the task of the church will then be to find creative ways of telling them. Our desire in all of this is to attempt to counter the negative messages that the media all too often communicates about migration/immigration issues. If you have such a story and would be prepared to share it, or are aware of a friend or neighbour who has and might be - please let me know.
It is against this backdrop of Moving Stories that we will approach Christmas this year - and this seems fitting. If ever there was a moving story in both senses it is the story of Christmas - an emotional rollercoaster, in which we find a number of people on the move.
There are the magi following a star, believing that it will lead them to the birth of someone who will change the world (and here comes a shameless plug - please buy a ticket to come to see the highly acclaimed Journey of the Magi by Springs Dance Company at Christ Church with St Philip, Worcester Park on 15th December).
There are the shepherds, following the directions of the angels, longing for the birth of a child that will, in time, transform their country and their lives.
There are Mary and Joseph - two people preparing for the birth of their child, having to go on a long journey at the behest of other, more powerful people.
And, of course, there is Jesus - taking his place in this world - and carried by fearful parents on a perilous journey to seek asylum in a foreign land, his life under threat from day one.
These are all moving stories that contribute to a bigger moving story.
In the Christmas story there is also an invitation to us as readers, to move ourselves to a place where we can listen and be changed by what we hear and discover. Part of this journey will undoubtedly be an emotional one, but it can be a physical one too.
Which is why it is good for us all to come together to make this journey and hear this story year after year after year - that we might hear something fresh within it, that it might touch us in a new way, as individuals and as a church community. Once again then please join us in Advent, at Christmas, Epiphany and beyond. And as we embark on this journey, let us each be open to the possibility of being moved by the story we encounter.
Wishing you a joyful and peaceful Christmas.