The Rector Writes …

Dear friends,

I hope you are keeping safe and well at this difficult time. As you know church life and life in general has been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Just as I write this letter, more restrictions are set to come to us all. You will have heard that churches are to close for 2 weeks, but our services will continue online – we will still gather (in our own homes) to worship Almighty God.

We can safely assume that this year everyone’s Christmas celebrations will be very different to those of previous years. You will notice that we will be having fewer Advent and Christmas services in church this year (as detailed in the Winter edition of Contact magazine). However the events of this year should be all the more reason that we celebrate a meaningful Christmas – Christmas is NOT cancelled!

Circumstances are different this year, but let us all try to stick with as many of our ‘old’ traditions as we can – decorate the house, have Christmas dinner, send cards and messages to our family and friends. Look out for the elderly and vulnerable. Stay safe!

Yes, it will be different … but one gift you can give this year is to ensure that you and your loved ones are protected as much as possible.

Take time to be grateful, give thanks to God, appreciate the little things.

Perhaps this year it is time for us to strip back the glitz, the rush and the fuss, and focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus – the reason for the season.

This year, people need Jesus more than ever.

Christ brings HOPE and LIGHT and as we cannot celebrate in all the ways we might have in the past, it is vitally important that we hold on to the true message of Christmas.

I was reminded of the words of a well known carol we sing every year. Written by Nahum Tate (1652-1715) it is based on words from Luke 2:8-14

While shepherds watched their flocks by night, all seated on the ground,
the angel of the Lord came down, and glory shone around.


“Fear not,” said he, (for mighty dread had seized their troubled mind),
“Glad tidings of great joy I bring to you and all mankind
.”

We usually attend so many carol services each year, and we listen or sing along to carols on the radio. Have the words become so familiar we forget their true meaning? Does the message get lost?

Fear not’ we are told.

To you, in David’s town, this day, is born of David’s line
a Saviour who is Christ the Lord; and this shall be the sign:


The heavenly babe you there shall find to human view displayed,
all meanly wrapped in swaddling clothes, and in a manger laid
.”

In our telling of the Nativity we have sanitised the story. We have made it all cutesy and cuddly, but in reality it is a story about poverty, corruption of the political powers, murder of innocent children. The key people are homeless and rejected. And yet…. into this broken and dark world we are told: “Fear not” These words are as relevant to us today as they were over 2000 years ago. We are reminded in the Christmas Day Gospel:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

Fear not. Be encouraged by the sure and certain hope we have in Jesus. The Light of the World. Emmanuel – God is with us.

This Christmas keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to share the light of Christ, and his saving love and grace with others.

Please do stay in touch and do not hesitate to contact me at the rectory (028 9573 9347) or by email (stormont@down.anglican.org) if I can help in any way, or if you simply feel like a chat.

Praying that we can all gather together in church on Sunday 13th December. Please check the website and Facebook for updates

Thinking of you all. Stay safe and well.

Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and blessed Advent and Christmas.

Yours in Christ,

Emma

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