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Minister's Letter

Dear Friends,

The other day, whilst having a quiet moment sitting with two sleepy dogs and a cup of tea, I was thinking that Ministry within our Church communities can sometimes feel very much like the fashion industry in that we need to be constantly working ahead to the next ‘season’. Even as we are celebrating Harvest services our thoughts are already on Advent and Christmas with Lent and Easter just beginning to cross the horizon of our thinking and plan making.

Despite this, in my personal and family life I do try to resist the commercial pressure to rush headlong from one ‘season’ to another. I’m sure you know the feeling of seeing Christmas items in the shops before we’ve even had Bonfire Night and Easter eggs arriving hard on the heels of Boxing Day.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all the sparkle and tradition of Christmas enormously. The tinsel and lights of Christmas trees in people’s windows on dark evenings, choosing and wrapping gifts for friends and family, sending greetings to those I no longer see regularly – all part of this celebration.

However, at this time, it is good to remind ourselves of why and who we are celebrating. The deceptively simple and familiar story performed by so many children in their Nativity plays, retold in the carols we sing, heard in the readings we listen to Sunday by Sunday during the weeks of Advent is a story of cosmic significance. Emanuel, God with us. A moment in time when God stepped into our human experience through the birth of His son, Jesus. Simple to say, but so difficult to fully comprehend.

Like all babies, Jesus brought change and disruption to the lives of those around him. To Mary and Joseph this pregnancy brought disgrace and suspicion from family and community, they faced the fear and uncertainty of a birth away from home, the mystery of being visited by shepherds and finally exile into Egypt. Yet, he brought joy, wonder and hope to those shepherds – people that others disregarded.

As this story unfolds, so we see more characters affected by this special child. The wise men from the East who left homes and families to travel to an unknown destination because of a promise they perceived in a great star; the rage and jealousy of Herod fearing for his position as king; the joy and hope of Anna and Simeon as they saw the promised Saviour.

I wonder how we will be affected as we once again contemplate the mystery and wonder of the Christmas story? What will we learn of the world we live in today as we look through the eyes of those people who experienced that first Christmas? How will we allow Jesus to disrupt our lives, to move us to places we can’t yet imagine?

May I wish you all a blessed time this Christmas.

Deacon Annette

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