What we do 

The team vicar writes... 

“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”   


During December countless greetings like this have been exchanged in cards and letters, emails and texts. Many of the cards feature pictures of jovial Santas, fluffy animals frolicking in the snow, couples kissing under mistletoe... While there is nothing wrong with such things in themselves, they have little to do with the birth of the Christ-child, and they certainly don’t hold the magic formula for ‘a Happy New Year’.

Where the heart of the Christ-mas story has appeared on our cards, more often than not it is in a sanitised and sentimental version, featuring a cosy stable with clean animals surrounding a cheery infant. Read the New Testament and you find that it records a reality that is rather different.

The events of the first Christmas were far from merry. Beginning with earth-shattering news for Mary - an unexpected pregnancy that would ruin her reputation, almost wreck her forthcoming marriage and totally change her life - the story unfolds with the birth of a baby in desperate circumstances. It culminates with the episode that most nativity plays omit completely: the child’s parents running for their lives and narrowly escaping a ghastly massacre, only to become refugees in a foreign land.

Yet in the midst of this dark and dangerous human drama, divine light dawns upon the world. Light for all people who will turn to face it and walk in it. The Good News of the birth of Jesus is not about superficial, fleeting merriment; it is about deep, lasting joy that does not depend on our outward circumstances but upon the transformation of our hearts and minds. The Christmas story as the Gospels tell it is not a fairy tale but the account of a real flesh-and-blood baby, born into the real world with all its mess and suffering. God Himself took on human flesh and blood in this child; God became what we are, where we are, so that we might become what He is, where He is. Heaven and earth, humanity and divinity, fuse into one in Mary’s womb.

I have a habit of praying part of a verse from the carol O little town of Bethlehem when I put on my cross and chain necklace each morning throughout the year. I pray these words:pic 1.jpgsmall

          O holy Child of Bethlehem,
          descend to us, we pray;
          cast out our sin, and enter in:
          be born in us today.

Perhaps (if you don’t already) you might make it your resolution for the coming year to begin each day with a short simple prayer of invitation to Jesus to live in you as you dwell in Him.

Whatever 2021 may hold for us and our communities in these very difficult and troubled times, when you and I welcome Jesus Christ into our hearts and homes afresh at the start of each new day, His presence can heal our wounds from the past, and calm our fears and worries for the future. Then, in Christ, we can have a truly blessed New Year.

Yours in the love of Christ Jesus,

mary The Revd Mary Barr

grump
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