If we look at the accounts of the first Christmas in the Gospels, we find that they keep on telling us about things not happening as planned.
· Mary did not plan to become miraculously pregnant before she was married to Joseph.</span>
· Mary and Joseph did not plan to have to travel all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be counted in a Roman census.
· Mary did not plan to give birth in a stable and place her baby in a feeding trough.
· The shepherds did not plan to leave their sheep in the fields to go into Bethlehem to see the new baby.
Things not happening as planned has also been a major feature of life for all of us during 2020, and now, as this year draws to its close, the Christmas and New Year services at St John’s with St Mildred’s will likewise not take place as planned.
In the light of the rapid increase in the Covid-19 infection rate in our local area, the decision has been made by the PCCs and the Rector that the best way to ensure that as many people as possible can take part in the Christmas and New Year services as safely as possible is for these services to move online.
This means that the services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will not now take place in church but will take place online.
The services on 27 December and 3 January will also not take place in church.
Worship material will continue to be circulated to everyone as it has for most of the year.
The pattern of services for January and February will be considered at the start of the New Year in the light of how the situation with regard to Covid-19 has developed by then.
Having to go online is a disappointment for everyone, but what we can also learn from the Gospel accounts is that even when our plans must change, God’s plans do not.
God is still the same loving God who was born as a baby in Bethlehem at the first Christmas so that we might be saved from sin and death and share eternity with him, and his plans have not been derailed.
We do not know what the New Year will bring, but we do know that God will be there for all of us in the midst of whatever happens.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46 v 1 & 7
With all prayers and best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.