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Rector's monthly letter

Preparing for Christmas

It’s not so long ago that Christmas seemed to begin just a few days before Christmas Day. For our family, the tree went up on Christmas Eve, along with pastry making, icing the cake and preparing the turkey. Indeed, in my early days at work, we didn’t finish until lunchtime on Christmas Eve and to have that afternoon off, we had to take a whole day’s holiday! So it was all a great rush but such fun, partly because everything didn’t need to be so perfectly presented as we are encouraged to do now. Now Christmas seems to start in November, copying the US system of beginning the ‘holiday season’ at Thanksgiving. Sometimes, people bemoan such a long pre-Christmas time. You hear: “we are exhausted by Christmas”.

For the Church, the time of Advent, the four weeks before Christmas Day, is traditionally one of quiet prayerful preparation for the festivities of Christ’s birth. Today, we often abandon that as our churches are filled with joyous Carol Services and Christingles. I think it is wonderful to broaden Christmas so that we can extend the great time we have, because the birth of Jesus Christ is wonderful and should be celebrated. He extolled, by his life and teaching, compassion and forgiveness. The world today, as at the time of Christ, is full of war and controversy, making Christmas a woeful time for so many caught up in conflict. We long for peace on earth. Yet Christ’s teaching on how to live is so often ignored. However, we can, each one of us, show compassion and forgiveness and bring Christ into our own lives and the lives of those around us to give a deep sense of God’s peace. That is what it means to bring Christ into the world of today. That is why we celebrate Christ’s birth.

We extend our holiday to encompass the New Year celebrations. A New Year is like a new beginning. This New Year, our Rector Phill is
moving to a new parish, sad for us, but for him and his new church, a new beginning. As we all wish each other a ‘Happy New Year’, so we wish Phill every happiness and God’s blessing in his new parish.

I pray that you will have a Happy Christmas and that next year will bring you many blessings.

Rev Sue Kipling, Associate Priest, Mid-Test Benefice