Christmas message from Sarfraz Anjum, mayor of Saffron Walden
PUBLISHED: 11:00 25 December 2016
Copyright © 2016 Celia Bartlett Photography
Christmas is a unique opportunity for us to consider the things that mean the most to us - our community, friends and family.
It also allows us to reflect upon the year that has passed.
Looking back, 2016 has been a significant year for our country for many reasons. The Brexit decision, the appointment of a new Prime Minister, Britain’s success at the Rio Olympics and the magnificent celebrations of Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th birthday were a few key events.
Whilst 2017 will bring with it challenges, we should always be optimistic about the future.
It is expected that within a few months time the Government will invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Although the formal process of leaving the EU is to some extent uncertain, we should embrace the exciting prospect of our nation striking trade deals and forging closer partnerships with the wider world.
At Christmas, we must remember what the birth of Jesus represents: peace, goodwill and hope.
The story of the birth of Jesus continues to inspire millions across the world. Despite being persecuted, Jesus’ unwavering message that we should love one another is a powerful one and is as important today as ever.
We should all be proud that it is because of these underlying Christian values that Britain is a successful, tolerant and loving home for people of all backgrounds.
I am pleased that during 2016 several senior Christian leaders accepted my invitations to visit the town. The Anglican Bishop of Lahore’s visit to the town was a memorable one. He spoke movingly in St Mary’s Church of the persecution faced by the Christian community living abroad. The Reverend Mark Poulson’s visit to Saffron Walden was also special. In his capacity as a senior envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, he brought with him personal greetings from the Archbishop.
This year also saw His Excellency the Ambassador of Jordan visit our town to discuss the refugee crisis stemming from the Syrian civil war – an ongoing issue with devastating humanitarian consequences. During this season, we should give a moment to think about innocent civilians including women and children whose lives have been damaged by the horrors of war.
At this time of the year, we should also remember that many of our brave armed forces will spend Christmas Day away from their families. It is because of their sacrifices that we have peace at home.
In conclusion, I would like to share a personal message with each and every one of you.
With the frenzied pace of commerce and communication in the 21st Century, we sometimes forget the importance of taking time out to focus on giving and sharing with others. Therefore, in this Christmas season, let us all come together and make a conscious effort to carry out a special act of kindness.
It doesn’t have to cost a thing, often the best acts of kindness are free. It can be reaching out to a elderly neighbour, spending time assisting a local charity, visiting an old people’s home or comforting someone who has lost a loved one during this year. Whatever the act may be let all of us spread the message of love and peace this Christmas.
I wish you all a merry Christmas. May this wonderful time of the year touch your heart in a special way.