- From Remembrance to Christmas
With a brilliant Remembrance Day over – from Packwood choir singing to Great Ness’s rendition of Harold Birch’s letters to the lighting of the Beacon – we can now turn our thoughts to Advent and Christmas.
Christmas seems to get earlier every year. This year, there was Christmas produce in the supermarkets in September but once Halloween was over, the Chocolate Oranges were where the pumpkins had been sitting only 24 hours before. It won’t be long until, ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ by Shakin’ Stevens finds its way onto every shop playlist. Christmas has truly arrived.
When everything proclaims that Christmas is here already – even in November – it can be easy to miss the beauty of advent. Advent is all about the wait. It’s a season in its own right which begins four Sundays before Christmas Day, when we celebrate Jesus’ birth. Many people will have an advent calendar to help them count down the long days towards December 25th. Did you know that the printed version is only a 20th century phenomenon? One December a mother cut a cake into 24 pieces and put them onto a piece of cardboard. Her little boy got to eat one piece each day until Christmas. That little boy grew up to be a printer. He always remembered what his mother had done, and in 1903 he produced the first Advent Calendar. It had 24 small windows. Behind each window was a picture of something he had wished for as a child – mostly toys.
It can help the waiting but nowadays waiting is often seen as a bad thing in our culture. We have microwaves and fast food restaurants so that we can get a meal instantly. We download songs we like via our phones the same minute that we hear them. But in advent, the wait for Christmas is a good thing. It’s not just about looking forward to a big party and lots of presents to increase your excitement. As with Lent, it is a time to prepare the heart. Pressing ‘pause’ on a busy life to marvel again at this historic event that changed the course of the world – the incarnation, when God himself came to earth to help us understand his love for us and teach us how to live in it. As the angel told the shepherds: “Today in the town of David, a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord”. (Luke 2:11)
I do hope you will be able to join us at one of our Christmas services to hear the wonderful story once again and to sing some of your favourite carols. I leave you, however, with some lines from one of the Advent Carols we will be singing at Great Ness Church on Sunday 2nd December
The tide of time shall never His covenant remove. His name shall stand forever. That name to us is Love.
- Peace and Remembrance
Part of me would like to think that the summer is not over and that the days are not shortening but that would be like living in Peter Pan’s Never-never-land (or I suppose I could live on the Equator!).
Mind you, the reality is that the sky is blue again today which reminds me of Vera Brittain’s poem:
“Perhaps some day the sun will shine again
And I shall see that still the skies are blue
And feel once more I do not live in vain
Although bereft of you.”
That said, reality today is quite different from what it used to be with the advent of social media and gaming. Albert Einstein said Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one but the soldiers in the WW1 trenches would have argued that point.
As a benefice we are doing a few events in memory of the day when peace was agreed. You might have heard of the 100 days of prayer (www.remembrance100.co.uk/100-days). Some of us are praying every day as directed but Ruyton Church will also be open for specific prayer from 16th-18th September. If you make your way to the prayer corner, there will be resources there to help you pray.. You might want to remember a relative, you might be a historian with a keen interest in that period or you might just want to ask God to bring peace to our world today.
Then there will be our Remembrance Day service at Ruyton church on Sunday November 11th where the benefice and other villagers will gather together to worship and hold the two minute silence.
Finally Great Ness church will be having an afternoon of poetry, local history and other activities that all will be welcome to.
Whatever your feelings are about WW1, I hope there is something for you to be involved with. Let us remember with gratitude all those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom and let us lift our eyes to God.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
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