December 2018

First Thoughts : Revd Jane

 

'Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Let earth receive her King.'

So begins one of our most popular Christmas carols, written by Isaac Watts in the 18th century. You might find yourself singing it this year at one of the many Christmas celebrations happening in Shoreham.

Christmas is a season that is marked by joy! Perhaps it might not always seem that way to you. It can be a busy and stressful time. It may bring out family tensions, or the sadness of loss, as we are reminded of past years that seemed happier. We may worry that our Christmas is not as perfect as the one we see in films or on the television.

Yet every year we are invited to come and celebrate... just as we are.

The people who gathered around Jesus that first Christmas  were a very motley assortment of rich and poor, different nationalities, and animals too. They all gathered around to gaze in wonder at what God was doing in the world. Their situations were far from perfect - a a holy family about to become refugees, shepherds who were a marginalised people, and foreigners far from home.

There was no roast turkey and tinsel cheer for them. No mulled wine and minced pies. But there was this knowing that Jesus was with them, doing something good and wonderful in the world; that in the midst of a life that can be messy, there is a love that holds all things together.

'Each Christmas, we are reminded of God's longing to surprise us with his gift of joy, love and new life. It's the greatest present we can receive and share with others!' write Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu in a booklet that we will be handing out as a gift to those who come to our carol ervice on 16th December.

'Follow the Star' is a journey through the 12 days of Christmas. It has been produced by the Church of England in a campaign to encourage us all (and especially those who don’t often go to church) to reflect for a while each day between Christmas and Epiphany on a short Bible passage, a simple prayer and a challenge to learn, change and grow. It’s a very nicely produced booklet, and I hope it will prove an encouragement for all those who read it. You can also sign up online for the daily reflections:

www.churchofengland,org/followthestar

To return to our carol written by Isaac Watts, it is in the last line that we sing of what it is that will ultimately transform our imperfect world:

'the wonders of His love, the wonders of His love,
the wonders, wonders of His love.'

Wherever we are and in whatever circumstances, my prayer is that we all experience that wonder for ourselves.

A joyful Christmas to you all,

Revd Jane


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