Well it seems odd to be writing about Christmas on 14th November, just two days after Remembrance Sunday but in a way it fits. Many have said that November is a time to remember i.e. looking back and yet Advent is a time to look forward. As individuals and churches it is good practice to do both; our past experience shapes our present in order to carry us forward to the changes of the future.
A few days ago I also prepared the words we will use when we light our Advent candles, which this year will be the same words in both churches. The words follow the themes of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love and these words spoken each week at the beginning of our services should help us to spend time to reflect on the coming of Christ in to the world. We all know how easy it is at busy times to push God out of our lives and I believe it is so important for us all to keep our focus firmly on the real meaning of Christmas in the midst of everything else.
I don’t know about you but this is hard. So, perhaps we need to be like Mary who pondered things in her heart or like the Shepherds who, in a quiet place on the hillside, experienced the glory of God. Maybe we need to be like the Wise Men who, whilst on a journey, had just one focus; to worship the Christ Child.
It may be that we remember Christmases past with great fondness, I know I do and it may be that we don’t like to think about future Christmases, so surely this should help us focus on making this Christmas one to remember. One where Jesus is welcomed into our hearts and the ‘no room’ sign is put up because we are full of God’s love and there is no room for the sins that separate us from God.
I am excited to be sharing my first Christmas with you and celebrating Christ’s incarnation together and with our communities. As this Christmas will be different for me, maybe we all need to do something different that causes us to look again at the wonderful and challenging Christmas story with new vision. And in this renewed relationship with God may we venture together into 2018 and fulfil the mission that God calls us to be and do as we follow in the ways of Jesus.
Shelley and I pray that you may all be truly blessed in every situation you find yourselves in this Christmas and sincerely thank you for all your love and support in these last few months.
Your friend and servant,