Dear Friends

How does the build up to this Christmas differ from last year for you? Whilst we are still living with Covid and a rise in transmission, hopefully we will not face a lockdown and whilst being careful and attentive to our neighbour’s health and well-being, to enjoy opportunity to spend Christmas with loved ones.

We do enter the important Season of Preparation, Advent, against the backdrop of feeling tired and trying to cope with the concerns about potential shortages, price rises for energy consumers and an uncertain economic climate. Naturally there is concern, but Advent is a Season of Hope, acknowledging the promise of God to bring light into darkness, hope into despair and life into places that are dry and lifeless.

The birth of Jesus, foretold by the messengers of God, continues to be a message of hope for the world, reminding us that God’s love is stronger than our fears and his entering our world is a sign that God never gives up loving us, no matter how much humanity might try to reject or ignore it. The angel’s message to Mary inviting her to bear in her womb the Saviour of the World is an invitation for us all to welcome Jesus into our hearts and lives and to share God’s love in our love, compassion and care for one another.

We so hope and pray for a New Year to be better than the last and for us to be able to continue to emerge into the light from the darkness of vulnerability, fears for our loved ones and looking for greater freedom to pick up lives that feel even more normal than they may do at the moment.

The message of Christmas does not end at midnight on 25th December. The feast of the Epiphany on 6th January might traditionally be the time when Christmas decorations are taken down, but it merely a staging post on the journey of revealing God’s light to the world, revealing signs where there is hope as people defend justice, seek to feed the hungry and speak up for the oppressed.

Hopelessness comes when we feel that we have no control over anything anymore and all we can do is to surrender ourselves to what will be. Advent, Christmas and Epiphany encourage us to find the strength, purpose, courage and faith to not give up, to fight for what is right and true, whatever the cost,  and to share the gift of our life, opportunities, skills, compassion and determination to change what we can and create the very best relationship possible with our neighbour.

Jesus is the inspiration for us in how he demonstrates love and it is our love for one another that will create a blessed and peaceful Christmas and hope for 2022, and not how much we spend, how hard we work to create the impossible (a perfect Christmas) and think that Christmas can never be the same again without loved ones around us.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season and God gifts him to us to embrace, love and follow as he offers us the gift of life through faith, hope and love.

Every blessing for a peaceful, healthy and hopeful Christmas and New Year.

Every blessing