From the Vicar
At the time of writing, it is still unclear as to exactly what the tiered restrictions will be that follow the ending of the temporary lockdown on 2nd December, but I would like to reassure all readers that, notwithstanding any indications to the contrary, Christmas will not be cancelled! It has been interesting, to say the least, to have observed the way in which large sections of the media understand and appreciate the importance and the significance of Christmas – or should I say “the festive season” or “the December celebrations”. We all know and appreciate the huge importance of the Christmas season for the economy, and for families and communities across the country in the “bleak mid-winter” of Covid-19 restrictions and the continuing suffering and death for so many people – all the more reason therefore for us to remind people of, and celebrate, the joy and the hope that is at the very heart of Christmas – the birth of the Messiah – God with us. This, as we all know, is the true “reason for the season” and some of us will be celebrating this in Church (God willing), others online or listening to the radio or watching the television – whatever situation we find ourselves in we will be celebrating and giving thanks for the birth of the Christ Child – neither plague nor pandemic can prevent this – nor even Oliver Cromwell!
I do not underestimate how different this Christmas will be for hundreds of millions of Christians throughout the world – but I will take great comfort in the celebration of a Festival which, in a strange way that we’ve begun to appreciate more during these long and difficult months of lockdowns, awful suffering and different restrictions, may well take on far greater significance and meaning for Christians, and others, everywhere. Difficulties and disappointments there will certainly be, and I do not want to gloss over these with glib platitudes – but our faith and hope as Christians is, or should be, far deeper and much more resilient than anything that can be thrown at us, including the current pandemic and all the problems associated with it. St Paul put this so wonderfully and powerfully into words in his letter to the Romans: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8) – nor Covid-19!
<span style="font-size: 1rem;">So, wherever we are and whatever we’re doing this Christmas, let me remind everyone of one of my favourite lines from one of the most well known and loved Christmas Carols “In the bleak mid-winter” by Christina Rossetti, which I’m sure we’ll all hear at some time over Christmas: “What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb; if I were a wise man I would do my part, yet what I can I give him: give my heart”. Give our hearts this Christmastide – to God, to the Christ Child and to one another.</span>
On behalf of all the Ministry Team (to whom, along with the many workers and helpers in our Church community, on your behalf, I would like to pay tribute, for their enthusiastic willingness to take on all the challenges that came in the wake of Covid-19 and the lockdowns, and continue!) – best wishes for a truly happy, peaceful, blessed and safe Christmas. Happy Christmas! And here’s to 2021!
The Revd Alec Brown.