This week's Sunday Song is another Pete Seeger classic. Although made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary it was penned by Seeger.
Inspired by today's news that the Methodist Church is opposing the Homosexuality Bill in Uganda (which could include the death penalty for anyone 'convicted' of homosexuality). This is an important move towards the church as a liberation movement. It shows that, while it has yet to allow a civil partnership to be blessed it will still speak up for the right of homosexuals to be who they are.
Why should this matter? As the Christmas season is in full flow the Moral Maze (Radio 4) tackled the subject of how to really celebrate Christmas. The fascinating discussion flowed through issues of morality and religion and really stretched and examined the many issues about 'celebrating christmas'.
One of the most stunning contributions was made by Jonathan Bartley. Using the example of Santa being turned away from Yarlswood (although it was sad he didn't mention the Methodist/Baptist/URC One More Card campaign on the issue) he made clear a simple point. Christmas is about getting to the meaning of the message of Christ. A message that was bound up in delivering freedom for all.
The Methodist action to send One More Card (I've sent one - have you?), coupled with this statement on the subject of Uganda shows that a joyful Christmas can be coupled with an awareness of the real world and showing how the joyful message of Christ is for all - and at this time of year we must ensure it.
Final word must go, though, to a often understated - but clear - section of the Methodist Church statement on human sexuality. The final point, point 6, makes clear a simple fact - regardless of your view of human sexuality - this is a subject to do with freedom and liberation. Wherever we are on our individual pilgramge to greater understanding of the subject, we cannot stand by and let injustice reign.
Conference recognises, affirms and celebrates the participation and ministry of lesbians and gay men in the church. Conference calls on the Methodist people to begin a pilgrimage of faith to combat repression and discrimination, to work for justice and human rights and to give dignity and worth to people whatever their sexuality.(For full text see 1993 statement on Human Sexuality).
So as you enjoy the sunday song I implore you. Take some time to think and consider - what are you doing to spread joy and justice this Christmas. But let us not hide our actions under a bushel. Instead take steps to proclaim to all what we do. For while Church Bells or Minorettes call those to worship God - let us take the chance to call others to say here is part of our worship. For Christmas will only ever be Christmas if we allow it to be a time, as Greenbelt 2004 so memorably reminded us, to let freedom ring throughout the land.
Take Care Y'All