Vicar's Letter - 17.12

            Vicar’s Letter – Are we nearly there yet?

On any journey with our small children there was always the question from the back seat of whether we were nearly there or not. On one four-hour car trip it was asked as we reached the first roundabout at the end of the road.

Are we nearly there yet? It’s a question that sees the destination as all and the journey as a waste of our precious time. But journeys can themselves be valuable. They give us space to think and to anticipate what is just over the horizon. As we make our way there is always so much to appreciate in the moment in which we live. Too much looking forward stops us seeing what’s all around us.

In church we have a time of advent as we approach Christmas, which is there to help us to consider what is coming. It is traditionally a time of waiting and watching. It is a time to balance all the frenetic activity of cards and presents and decorations with at least some space to sit quietly to ponder.

Some say that our Christmas celebrations have been completed overtaken by the consumer culture that we are all part of. Christmas is now defined by the adverts that compete for our attention and the lists of purchases that have to be made in order to fulfill our obligations to friends or family. We simply cannot say that we have taken part until we plunge into the throngs of people that pack the shopping centres. We have no place in these festivities unless we’ve racked up an enormous credit card bill or drained our current account.

But other routes are possible. We can go by the road less travelled, which takes an alternative course. It may be scary and you may risk losing out on the best present buyer of the year award but it’s possible to enjoy Christmas by focusing more on the relationships that we share. That means seeing people as just as important as stuff and seeking to spend time instead of money. It’s about noticing those around us as we move into these last weeks of the year. It’s also about understanding that those you love will benefit as much from your presence as the presents that you bring.

It might be that there will be someone unexpected who will need our support as they journey onwards. We can help them as they cope with all the pressures and potent memories that swirl around us. As we bear each other’s loads we may find that we get to the very heart of what Christmas is actually about. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son. A person is the gift at the centre of what we celebrate. So let’s make the most of these days by being a gift to those around us during this advent and Christmas season.

May the God of hope and peace be with us all,                                   Neil

Vicar's Letter
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