December 2016

December 5, 2016

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

The wonderful season of Advent is here and our thoughts turn to the imminence of Christmas. Now our preparations for Christmas can begin. Of course in reality preparations started long ago. When I was a child it would be just a few days before Christmas that Dad come home with a Christmas Tree and the wonderful smell of pine pervaded the house. The Christmas lights were tested and inevitably replacement bulbs sourced. We made paper chains to decorate the room and Christmas cards arrived. Nowadays the decorations are brighter and shinier, Christmas lights more reliable and the coming of artificial trees means that they can go up earlier and there are no pine needles to clear up. However I’m not sure that any of this makes the Christmas season better, it just makes it longer. By the time Christmas Day comes we’re too exhausted to enjoy the main event.


Advent should be a time of preparation but it has become a time of doing. An Anglican vicar I know participated in over thirty carol services last year in schools, care homes, church organisations, community centres and finally one in church. Some of these were combined with Christmas dinners or teas giving a real opportunity for over-eating. Of course none of us are as busy as that, mind you we do our best!


So let us take an all too brief a moment to remind ourselves what Advent should be helping us to prepare for. It is a time of preparation to help us get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ the Son of God, our Saviour. This is a truly momentous, mind blowing earth shattering event. The idea that God should come to earth is hard enough to get our heads round but that he should do it by being conceived in the womb of a young woman is almost incomprehensible. Yet it happened. And how it happened is one of the most astonishing stories of all time. For centuries Jewish prophets had been prophesying the birth of a Messiah. Yet when it happened they virtually missed it, the only representatives of the Jewish nation who worshipped him at his birth were a few shepherds and they, by the very nature of their job, were considered unclean outcasts. A little later the infant Jesus was visited by a number of Gentile Kings, or wise men, who had seen it in the stars. Of course there was also his mother and (step)father, a large angel choir an innkeeper, an angry King involved in the story.


I would encourage you to find time to sit quietly, or take a stroll in the country, and reflect on the story of the first Christmas and what the Jesus Christ, the Messiah, means to you. It is ultimately a story of profound importance. It is a story that has the power to change individuals and through them change the world. Accepting Jesus as Messiah means treating him as our King and offering him our total allegiance and complete obedience. As his kingdom grows throughout the world wars will cease, famine end, migration become unnecessary. All people will treat all people with dignity, love and respect, anger, greed, envy and selfishness disappear. The whole world will be the kingdom of God, it would literally be heaven on earth and of course there would be no Advent because with everyone being with Jesus every day it really would be Christmas every day.