9. Dec, 2019

Ros's Christmas letter

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas & God’s blessing on 2020…

I’m starting this while in County Durham doing my Christmas Preparation with my friend Jean.  We’ve been catching up on what’s been happening in our lives & reminiscing about past times together, as well as planning future times away.  It is good to get together with friends & we’ve also spent some time with someone else we trained for ministry with & had a meal with his family.  

One of the joys of Christmas is meeting up with people who are special to us & receiving cards & catch up letters from friends who we don’t get to see very often.  While Christmas can be a very busy time, with so much to do & so much going on, it is also a special time of year.  

In church life we have some special things going on for us & alongside the other churches in the village.  The singing of carols feature in many of these.  There is the Beer & Carols at the Gate pub organised by Churches Together in Swanwick.  Why not come along & join in the fun?  There will be a further opportunity to join together at the carol service at Rowthorne Nursing Home.  The Parish Council are organising a Civic Carol Service at St Andrews Church & it would be good if some of us could go along to support this.  These are all opportunities to make people aware of our church & of the real meaning of Christmas.

Closer to home, there will be opportunities for us to celebrate Christmas together.  We have our Christmas Dinner to look forward to, thanks to Elsie & her team of little helpers.  This is always a special time of fellowship together.  Then we have Alfreton Male Voice Choir coming along for a SING-A-LONG again this year.  What a fantastic opportunity to invite others to a fun evening.  Please invite as many as you can as it would be brilliant to see a full church.  Many people like to sing carols & even if they don’t like singing they like to hear carols being sung.  If they can’t make this, they might like to come along to our Carol Service or even both!

This Advent, we are going to have an active time!  Each week we will be looking at the Christmas story, not necessarily in the usual order, in the context of some verbs.  So we will start by journeying with the Wise Men as we travel to the manger to worship the new born King.  Then we will be saying yes with Mary. waiting & watching with Simeon & Anna & rejoicing with the angels before doing something with the shepherds on Christmas Day.

All of this emphasises that our December will be a busy time but let us make space for Christ in the middle of all the preparations.  If you want some help in creating some quiet space, Pauline & I are planning to have a quiet hour or so each week with some Celtic reflections.  You are very welcome to join us.  The day & time will vary in order to fit in with other things, so you will need to check each week when & where.

For me, Christmas has already begun.  We tried to get in the mood for our preparations by listening to carols & putting up some decorations.  I know it’s a bit early but Jean won’t be going up North again until Christmas.  One thing we did notice was that when we took the time to step away from our preparation, God took us by surprise.  Our walks in the countryside were times of discovery & we collected some treasures to take home with us to explore & ponder further.  What we found was that it were the small details that we noticed most rather than the big vistas.  The most memorable was a tree which was devoid of any leaves but with roots going into the River Wear.  The most amazing thing was the colourful lichens & mosses growing on the branches of the tree, & some of these had raindrops glistening on them.  It really took our breath away & we kept talking about it as we explored our thoughts.  I took a photograph of it which Jean gave the title supporting ourselves & others.  It triggered the reflection that over Christmas we need to nurture our own connection with God & support others to encounter him. To bring the real meaning of Christmas.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.      Isaiah 9:6