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fireworks credit unsplash Nicolas TissotAs we enter 2018, Moderator-elect of General Assembly, the Revd Nigel Uden encourages people to walk the counter-cultural way of Jesus Christ.

Throughout 2018 we will mark the end of the First World War with thanksgiving that it ended, the commemoration of the ‘lost generation’, and reflect on what its lessons were. 

A century on, many ponder the mysteries of a prosperous continent choosing to risk everything, and of soldiers fighting on, yet piercing the war’s impenetrable shadows with the light of their comradeship, dependability and self-sacrifice.

Read more: Walk the way paved with faith in the New Year

Boy under tree credit Unsplash Andrew NeelThe Revd Kevin Watson, Moderator of the URC’s General Assembly, shares a story about the greatest Christmas gift of all time.

Imagine the scene one Christmas morning a few years ago in a materially rich house, but emotionally poor home. 

Down the stairs, a child runs excitedly and expectantly along the hallway passing room after room, and into a huge reception room. There in the corner stood a huge artificial tree resplendently adorned with every kind of ornament – except with anything Christian that could be deemed offensive – that was admired by all the business guests at the party the night before. 

Read more: From the past, the present for the future

Baby Jesus credit unsplash credit walter chavezDerek Estill, Moderator-elect of General Assembly, reflects on the importance of Jesus’ birth.

In amongst the excitement and final preparations for Christmas Day we often lose sight of what that first Christmas Eve would have been like. 

No tinsel or lights for Mary and Joseph, who were urgently and anxiously trying to find somewhere to stay. Mary was about to give birth and Joseph worried about her and how things were going to work out.

Read more: Don't lose sight of Christmas' importance

christmas cowsWhat’s so special about a baby in a cattle shed? asks Susan Durber

There is something utterly extraordinary that we celebrate at Christmas. But it is not, I think, that a baby was once born in a stable. There was a moment in my life, a short while ago, when it suddenly dawned on me that that’s not so very odd at all.

I was on a Christian Aid visit to India and staying in an ordinary home in a village. I was trying to get to sleep after a long but exciting day. I could hear the man of the house snoring through the thin partition wall. But, much clearer than him, I could also hear the sounds of the cattle from the shed that was right up against the bedroom I was sharing with several other people.

Read more: Christmas among the cows