Dear Friends and Neighbours,
‘A choice lay ahead. The traveller could allow herself to be dragged towards Bethlehem this year, kicking and screaming through the tinsel-laden pressures of the expected route to Christmas. Already her local radio station had been announcing the countdown of the days even before the leaves had started to fall. Was the world getting more crazy, or was it just her?’
‘Would she journey or not? All around her folk were expressing the desire to stay at home, lock the doors, put the phone off the hook and opt out of the pandemonium. After all, hadn’t she ‘been there, bought the T-shirt’, year after year?
On the other hand, suppose she hadn’t seen it all? Supposing God could surprise her? What if there was something at the destination more than shopping aisles and carols and mince pies?’ (An extract from ‘On the Way to Bethlehem’ by Hilary McDowell 1998, p10)
As we step into the season of Advent, I wonder what your build up to Christmas is looking like? Sadly for most of us, all too often we feel rather like the women in my extract. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was full of hope and expectation?
The Old Testament reading from Isaiah that we hear in our Carol Services is full of hope and expectation. As to how the birth of Jesus that first Christmas did and can still change our Christmas today and our lives. This is how the Message Translation puts it..
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows— light! sunbursts of light!
You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy
Oh, they’re so glad in your presence! Festival joy!
The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings
For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over the running of the world
His names will be: Amazing Counsellor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness
His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings
Now that’s something to journey to Christmas for… to find the one who brings wholeness and peace, joy and celebration
Isaiah prophesied that this child would grow up and bring good news to the poor, heal the sick and broken hearted, bring freedom to those in captivity, to comfort those who mourn and to bring joy into lives where there is sadness
I hope you make the choice to journey to Christmas this year with the expectation and hope that you might discover the most precious gift of all… Jesus, and the gift of life and love that He brings
Across the Benefice there are lots of Carol Services and Christmas Services, something hopefully to suit everyone… our advertising is #Follow The Star. We look forward to seeing you and I hope and pray that this Advent as you journey towards Christmas you know the eagerness of the shepherds, the perseverance of the wise men, the joy of the angels, and the peace of the Christ- child Jesus
Cathy Bladen (The Rector)