‘There was no room for them at the inn’.
The Midlands are what hold our country together, and Midlanders are the best people you can find anywhere: genuine, hardworking, and with a great sense of humour.
We are very different from one another, thank God, and I have had the great privilege of meeting people in very different places: asylum seekers at the Sanctus project in Stoke, chicken farmers in Shropshire, wine-makers on the border with Worcestershire, young prisoners near Lichfield and children all over the place!
I have been thinking of that as I live again through the Christmas story at this season – local shepherds, homeless refugees, eastern scholars and Roman officials all have their part to play.
And they all come together in the stable at Bethlehem, just as a huge range of people will be coming together in our churches this Christmas. There is room for everybody: see www.AChristmasNearYou.org for your local services. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, my prayer is that God may bring you joy and hope this Christmas.