Letter from our Vicar

Letter from our Team of Clergy and Readers - DECEMBER 2018 (Continued from Home Page)

....In the midst of our secular world life does indeed seem to stop from the end of Christmas Eve through to the New Year and, undoubtedly, for Christmas Day and a few days afterwards. Life seems to go at a slower pace when many of the things we take for granted – like work, school and college – come to a standstill. It is a time when many of us can stop – to relax, to worship, to share time with special people and to reflect, in the depths of winter, about the gift of life itself and its purpose.

I am aware that countless numbers of presents will be given and, sadly, some people will enter into debt or deeper debt in trying to pay for a Christmas they think appropriate. Yet, the greatest present is the sense of ‘Presence’ – that our Christmas celebrations will be in essence a time of celebrating the Presence of Christ, not only 2000 years ago and his birth at Bethlehem but also the sense of his being with us now in our hearts, our homes, our community and our world.

When Jesus Christ was born he entered into a world not very different from ours in terms of its own uncertainties, dangers and worries. The Palestine of his day was occupied by foreign forces. There was an uneasiness between different factions of the society of his day and there were those who were prepared to take violent action to further political and religious ends. Yet his life, his death and his resurrection gave untold hope to those who recognised his Presence in their midst.

No-one knows the actual date of Jesus’ birth but that birth is celebrated at the shortest and darkest time of the year. The celebration of his birth has displaced the old pagan festivals – indeed, it has Christianised them. It is in the darkest times that we do need real hope and light from outside ourselves to give us confidence for the present and the future. We believe that the presence of Christ, in his flesh in centuries past and by the presence of his Spirit now, inspires us and enables us to become more truly human, changed from the ways of self-centredness to that of real and costly loving, of that concern for the true well-being of others.

Yet in becoming man in Christ, God did not force us and he still leaves us with the freedom to choose. He came among us as a baby, vulnerable and at risk, and it is in his helplessness that he draws from us that desire to follow him and be caught up in the spirit of his life, work, love and service.

In the midst of our uncertain world, I do hope that this Christmastide will truly be a time of peace and hope in our hearts. I pray that we strive for a fairer and more just world and that we recognise the presence of the living Christ within us and around us, who truly enters into the world as it is and gives us hope and help for today and tomorrow.

Let us celebrate this Christmas by committing ourselves afresh to God, to his love and to his service in one another. Let us truly rejoice that he has come among us and given us the gift of himself that we might be instruments of transformation in our world.

With my very best wishes and every blessing

Michael Irving