Revd Gary's Christmas Message 2021

Listed Under: Vicars Blog

Dear Friends,

Welcome to this festive and seasonal edition of your Parish Magazine. Whether you are reading this as a paper version or online, I hope you are all well and looking forward, through the remaining weeks of Advent, to the coming of Christmas and onwards to a better 2022.

Every year, Oxford Dictionaries select a ‘Word of the Year’. Last year, or was it the year before (pandemics do that to your short term memory) it was climate emergency.   Anyway, that still seems like an important phrase to use and reflect upon, but I wonder what it will be Word of the Year this year?

There are of course many candidates:  Vaxers/anti-vaxers, Lateral Flow, bubbles, PCR, pandemic, the new normal, Plan B, Standard unprecedented. A recent/ late re-entry: the return of political sleaze. It feels like face covering and social distancing are falling down the list……

Another good candidate might be the word ‘disruption’ - how our lives have changed in the last 20 months.

Disruptions are of course nothing new. A little over 2000 years ago a baby was born. Nothing so special about that I hear you cry. To the uninformed observer it looked like just another baby. Although, if they had looked more closely they would have wondered...

why a baby was born in the place where animals are kept?
why shepherds and wise men came to honour him?
why they told tales of angels singing and special stars rising in the sky?
why an angel told his mother that this baby would be called “the Holy One, the Son of God”?

And maybe they would have had a hunch that this baby represents the biggest disruption in history, although wrapped in the most surprising way!

As Christians we believe that in Jesus God’s world breaks into ours. St John writes: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1. 14). God loves us so much that his rescue plan for our world is to ‘empty himself’, give up the splendour of heaven, to become one of us and to give his life so that we might be children of God ... forever. 

Ever since this baby was laid in a manger, Christmas - and all the events of Jesus’ life - have captured the hearts and lives of uncounted people. Today we may be in danger of losing the central message of Christmas in our part of the world, but you and I can recover it ... this Christmas.   Go on.  Look for the REAL Christmas Presence.

To help you explore Christmas, and its true meaning, I hope you will engage with the Walk of Wonder around Madresfield in December and look forward to a number of services including Cribs, Lessons and Carols and even a brass band support carol service.  Many things may have to be different still or changed at short notice, as we are still in a pandemic.  Whatever we can offer you, to get closer to Christ, we will make them as safe as we can for you.  Check our website, social media or give me a call for further information.  Oh, yes, the (knitted) angels are flying back soon to our villages, highways and byways. Look out for them. Some may be in surprising places, because it’s in the surprising places we tend to find God at work. -  always an annual delight and a big thank you to all those knitters that help with this joy.

For some of us, Christmas might not be a joyous occasion.  There is a movement called Blue Christmas that you might have heard of. Some of us are facing real hardships, which were unimaginable even twelve months ago: We have lost loved ones, we grieve the loss of so many freedoms we took for granted, we have lost our job, our mental health has suffered.   Let’s be easy on ourselves at this time of year if you do not feel that festive.  Christ was still born to you.

May the current stage of the pandemic crisis help us see Christmas with fresh eyes and rekindle the wonder and astounding discovery that this baby in a manger is the greatest disruption in all of history – a disruption that leads to hope, healing and wholeness.

I wish you all a joyful and peaceful Christmas and a better 2022 for us all!

Season’s greetings and blessings,

Revd Gary