Bulletin No 20

December 6th : Well, it’s St Nicholas Day, and we have an early Christmas present !

An email has arrived today from the Chancellor of the Diocese granting us the Faculty we need to start the restoration work ! It carries some further directions and qualifications, but we can at long last look forward to work starting early in the new year.

I can’t express the relief I feel that at last we can begin to move forward, and please may I say another “thank-you” to all who have helped to get us this far, and for the community’s patience. It feels we have turned a huge corner today.

What a lovely touch too that it comes on our St Nicholas’ Day, remembering an ancient Bishop who is best known for his unexpected gifts to those in need around him.

I saw an extraordinary advert recently ! It was for Disneyland Paris, and the suggestion was that a trip there would make an ideal Christmas present. I couldn’t quite believe it, not because Disneyland isn’t a fun place to go (unless you hate queuing and it’s in France in December!), but because we are already being told that this Christmas is going to be a miserable one due of the recession.

We have heard people bewailing the fact that they won’t be able to afford to get the children what they want (or what they expect) this year, and see retailers in permanent sale mode.

So the suggestion of a holiday at Disneyland as an ideal gift is perhaps a little odd. In fact it’s the first time I think I’ve ever seen a holiday being suggested as a Christmas present. Maybe it’s an attempt to suggest to people that it really isn’t that bad, and all this talk about recession is over-dramatised. I wonder how long the advert will run …

The statements above remind us of what Christmas has become for many people – a chance to spend a lot of money. That’s why we seem to be being prepared for lots of disappointment from families who didn’t get what they want, and from retailers who found people didn’t shop until they dropped.

It’s true that part of Christmas is about celebrating with families and exchanging gifts. After all, there were angelic celebrations the night Jesus was born, and the wise men brought him valuable gifts …

But an important part of our Christmas celebration is who Jesus was and why Jesus came. The carols we sing are full of this wonderful news.

Our celebrations are not just about seeing family, buying presents, eating well, and watching James Bond – though all these things are great fun ! Christmas is about celebrating the birth of the one person who can really make a difference in our lives – clearing away the rubbish that lies there, and giving us a fresh start.

Why ? Simply because God loves you.

May I wish you a very happy Christmas, and a new year filled with hope and new beginnings.

Rev Martin Green