“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the past, the present, and the future. The spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!” So Charles Dickens sends his message of Christmas through the ages for us to enjoy today.
Another of my favourite writers CS Lewis in his Narnia stories for children described how after an absence of 100 years Father Christmas was invoked by visiting young people from England to return to Narnia and renew the spirit of giving and receiving. Both writers were committed Christians.
For Christians this is a time to celebrate the coming of our saviour for others it will not be a spiritual experience but none-the less will be a joyous time of family and/or friends finding time for each other and renewing their relationships.
Please look out for those living alone who are not linked into our various communities and support them (if they wish that is) to be with others. Many organisations, like The Bridge Church, are organising Christmas day events and long term associations are available through Age UK for example.
For me, Christmas began with the switching on of the Christmas lights and the opening of the Christmas Market on the steps of our wonderful cathedral, dedicated to Lincoln’s patron saint Our Lady who gives birth on Christmas day.
For the very first time I was honoured to read a lesson at the special Evensong of that day in the cathedral. I do so again on Christmas Eve before going to a carol service with readings at the Golden Eagle pub on the High Street.
On Christmas morning I will be with my family and friends at a Mass celebrated by our chaplain and parish priest Fr Eddie (Canon Edward Jaroszat MA of SS Peter and Pauls). On New Year’s Day the Civic Party will be visiting new born babes and mothers at Lincoln County Hospital.
For the Civic Party and I, this year has been a fascinating and whirlwind tour of our city, its wonderful places and its dedicated people and organisations.
It has also been a time of renewing links such as with our German twin town of Neustadt an der Weinstrasse and its Chief Executive who visited Lincoln and its Mayor who we met recently in Germany on our visit to Neustadt.
Over the year we have met the Dean Christine Wilson working with others to end poverty in our city. The Dean came to Park ward this year and she also came to see one of our excellent faith Schools, Bishop King.
I visited St Peter at Gowts and many other schools as part of World Hello Day! I was grateful too for Bishop Christopher who is working with Bishop Patrick of Nottingham and all of our faith leaders in the city for unity.
Dr Tanweer Ahmed of the Muslim community welcomed us to the Mosque to stand out with all of us including the leader of the council Ric Metcalfe and The Rev Bruce Thompson of the Methodist Community along with Fr (Canon) Colin Taylor of Our Lady’s and others against violence in unity with the Muslim people of our city at the time of the Manchester bombing.
As over the year I have worked with my fellow Christians and the other people of the book I am bound to in faith I have been hugely impressed. Our Islamic and Jewish sisters and brothers and other faiths have invited the Civic Party into their places of worship or social setting to celebrate their oneness with the city.
We met too with representatives of our armed forces and cadet forces all of whom contribute to our defence and I am pleased that they are so much more respected these days. Their work is really appreciated, especially the many who will spend Christmas away from their loved ones.
My Mayoral charity is Lincoln Food Banks and Community Larder. Such are the levels of compassion in our city that already a considerable sum has already been raised for the charity (more is needed though).
Many organisations and individuals have committed their time and enthusiasm to the charity across our city.
A New Year dawns in 2018
I have been in awe too of the great work the cathedral community does to enable our city to commemorate and celebrate so many important events. 2018 will see the first century of the Royal Air Force which I look forward to celebrating with the RAF and the city while remembering many of my own friends from my RAF days.
2018 will see important moments in our vibrant and ever changing city. Two great universities, a new transport hub and new housing plans along with a determination to bring fresh economic change and opportunities will be the hallmark of our city.
Our city is a living entity that renews year by year seeking always to overcome the many challenges we face.
I have no doubt that I shall end my year next May with our Civic team as optimistic and impressed by our city as the moment that we began.
As Mayor therefore I wish you a happy and holy Christmas and a peace-filled 2018.
I am joined in this by Mayoress Sue Burke, Sheriff Jo Rimmer, Consort Kraig Needs and Civic Manager Kate Fenn with her team all of whom I wish every blessing upon.
Finally I know too that I bring the respectful and caring good wishes of all at the City of Lincoln Council.
Donations to the Mayoral Charity can be made to the Civic Office at City Hall, Beaumont Fee, Lincoln.