Rector’s Letter – December 2016

Dear folks,

Here we are again at the beginning of a new liturgical year (year ‘A’ in the 3 year cycle for anyone interested in the lectionary), and approaching a new calendar year. So it’s our traditional double festive issue of the magazine packed with lots of good things about upcoming festivals, events and celebrations.

Of the plethora of festivals that lie ahead the most significant during the period that this issue covers is one of the two major events celebrated by the church, the birth of the promised Messiah, known to all as ‘Christmas’. So I’m guessing that you won’t mind me focussing on it again!

I have a question for you to ponder… If you could give the world anything at all for Christmas, but just one thing, what would it be? Healing? Tolerance? Peace? Hope? A future? Love? Joy? A new beginning? Spend a few moments quietly to contemplate that…

…When it comes to trying to decide what to give your friends and family members, retailers are only too happy to spend a lot of money on expensive advertising designed to persuade you that they have all your loved ones could need or want. Each year the John Lewis advert is looked forward to with great anticipation by many excited shoppers. I have to admit that this year’s is quite entertaining, with the excited boxer dog, having watched the wildlife out of the window having fun all night, bounding down the garden on Christmas morning to play on the trampoline that has been built by Dad for the little girl of the family after she had gone to bed.

Another one which is something of a production is the animated Sainsbury advert (full version can be seen on Youtube – search for ‘Sainsbury’s official Christmas advert 2016’). I don’t particularly like it, but when pondering what to write in my letter this month it occurred to me that there is a good message in there.

The scenario it depicts is one of a loving but very busy working Dad, who is very much aware that he isn’t able to spend quality time with his family. In a reflective moment he finds himself pondering the question, ‘What is the greatest gift I can give my family?’ Having further reflected and concluded, ‘I’d like to spend the time with the ones I love so dear’, he comes up with an ingenious way of being able to give them himself.

Festive bells chimed in my head at that wonderful summary of the Christmas message and reminded me of this verse in John’s Gospel, “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son.” [John 3.16a – The Message]

Perhaps God, thinking of his beloved children, wondered, “What is the greatest gift I can give my family?”, and concluded that He would give Himself.

It is a brilliant, radiant truth that in Jesus, God gave himself so that we would receive many, many wonderful good things, not least the hope of unending life. That is the powerfully transformative Christmas message; the hope for all humankind that brings great joy and hope to all who take hold of it.

May your contemplations of what you might give this world inspire you to petition God in prayer. May He stir each of us to give more of ourselves to love and to serve. And may the approaching season be a time of great joy for you and all you love.


Have a wonderful Christmas,