CHRISTMAS MESSAGE: Dr Derek Browning Moderator, Church of Scotland

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In September 2017, I was privileged to bless the new Queensferry Crossing over the Firth of Forth, which is a thing of great beauty, more than the steel and stone with which it is built.

The image of a bridge speaks to me of the dynamic of faith, which is about enabling movement, purpose and service.

Bridges have distinctive functions, so does faith.

Bridges connect people and places, so, at its best, should faith.

The new bridge inspired one of the nearby towns to reach out to people in their local community.

In the months leading up to the bridge opening, people of all ages did things to make life better for their neighbours.

They helped with DIY, they litter-picked, they gardened, they baked, and they helped people around them.

They kept a record of what they did on Post-it notes and attached them to an impressive 9ft drawing of the new bridge in what they called the Bridge of Kindness.

Christmas can be like a bridge of kindness, connecting person to person, heart to heart, life to life.

When we build bridges with our lives, we find ways to address the pressure points where people struggle to live.

In times of loneliness, or frailty, or ill health, or bereavement, or anger, or bewilderment.

We won’t be able to fix every situation, but we might be able to fix something, and make life for someone a little better, a little more bearable.

In a world where people are often isolated, we should not build walls; we should build bridges.

Our lives matter, and the way we live them.

They will not be perfect. There will be stumbles and falls along the way. There will be plenty of people to point out our faults.

At Christmas, people of faith celebrate the wonderful life of Jesus, and the wonderful life Jesus offers to us – to be light, to be laughter, to be love. It is, truly, a wonderful life.