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Letter from the Vicarage
“While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn”.(Luke 2:6-7)
At this time of year there is always a great sense of anticipation and of hope. As we make our plans for Christmas, we anticipate the variety of services which help us to celebrate the birth of Jesus: school services, carol services, crib services and the uniquely special service of Midnight Communion and then Christmas morning Holy Communion.
One of my favourite stories about a school nativity service (not in our schools!) is of the little boy who wanted to play the part of Joseph. He was very disappointed to be given instead the part of the innkeeper, but he appeared to accept his teacher’s decision and got on with his part in the play. However, on the day of the performance, in front of a school hall packed with parents, the boy took his revenge. When Joseph and Mary asked him if there was any room in his inn, he abandoned the script, stood back so that the door to the inn was wide open and said, ‘yes there’s plenty of room; come on in!’
That might not be the way the familiar story goes but I think the little boy’s actions have some things to say to us at Christmas. We all are invited to ‘come in’ to greet the holy child, born into such very humble surroundings. All are invited to the variety of different services and events which our churches offer at Christmas as we join together in celebrating the birth of Jesus, the One who comes to save us and bring us joy. There literally is ‘room for all’ because God welcomes each and every one of us. He does not want anyone to be turned away, because He loves each of us so much. God has shown the depth of that love in His unique gift to us; the gift of His Son, born as one of us, part of a loving human family; the One who was willing ultimately to give his life for us, so that we might share in his life, for ever.
We anticipate the celebration of Jesus’ birth, not only because it is a great excuse for a bit of a party, but also because his birth gives us hope. Hope for the future. Hope in the midst of much that seems to be changing all around us. Our Christmas celebrations lead into the celebrations of the new year, with a heightened sense of anticipation for all that 2020 might bring. Many will be praying that the next year will be better than the last; others will be going into the New Year with a deep sense of anxiety and uncertainty. Others will be wanting to get stuck into the new year with a new set of promises to themselves, to be fulfilled in the year ahead. However, as we approach 2020, we should remember the wonderful promise which Jesus made to us: ‘remember that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time’ (Matthew 28:20). Jesus promises to be there with us in whatever it is that life brings; in the happy times and in the sadnesses; in the pain and also in the joy.
At Christmas, God welcomes us all to celebrate the birth of His Son, the One who brings hope to the world. God invites us to come in because He has made sure that there is room for us all.
As we journey onwards then and maybe jump ahead of ourselves, I, first of all, wish you a holy Advent and then when it eventually comes a happy and blessed Christmas and a peaceful new year.
With every blessing