As Christmas approaches, it is worth taking a few minutes to reflect on the year that we leave behind.

It is a time to remember those whom we may have lost during the last year, and I’d make special mention of the sad loss of past Grand Master Ian Wilson. There were other members, friends and family as well that have passed, but we remember fondly the joy they brought and the enduring legacies they have left behind. 

Christmas is very often a time when families come together, and whilst we can enjoy the presents that are under our tree, it is more important to enjoy the people around it.  So as we rush through the busy holiday season, take time to appreciate the true blessings of Christmas; the moments with family, the companionship of friends, and the fellowship with all others.  We should think about those who may not have family and may be on their own at this time of year.   It is a time to reach out and help look after those who may need comfort and support.

We have of course just had a very divisive general election.  Communities, households and families may still be reflecting on the results.  Now is the time to come together and put the division behind us.  Without getting too deep into party politics, we should at least take some comfort that a party that shares our commitment to the union remains in power.  This will hopefully give us some much-needed stability, but we must also do what we can to remind our leaders that they must show their commitment to all parts of the union, and all nations within.  And in particular we think of our colleagues in Northern Ireland.

2019 brought its challenges for the Orange Order.  We were once again the target of institutionalised discrimination when our rights were curtailed by those in power in the City Chambers in Glasgow.  We fought back, we protected our communities, and we regained the rights that were taken away.

Whilst we fully expect this discrimination against us to continue, I again give a commitment that we will continue to fight this prejudice at all levels and whatever way is deemed appropriate. 

Finally, and above all else, I’d like to wish all of our members and supporters a very happy Christmas.  I’d like to personally thank the membership for their help and support over the past year, and as always, pay a particular tribute to those that have been working hard to raise the tens of thousands of pounds that we have raised to go towards charitable causes. 

As our Christian beliefs tell us, Christmas is the start of new beginnings.  It is a time to have hope for the new year ahead.  It is a time to highlight the qualities of peace, of generosity, and of understanding.  This time of year reminds us that the beliefs that unite us are far greater than those which divide us.

Have a very Merry Christmas, and best wishes for the New Year.

Jim McHarg MWGM