Message from our Rector
You are invited… I wonder what is the best invitation you have ever received?
When I was a child, my mum always propped up invitations on the mantelpiece as a reminder of something exciting to look forward to. It felt very special to be invited to a party, a wedding, an anniversary or other special occasions.
At Christmas time we receive the great invitation to come and find love, hope and peace at the manger as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. We will hear again the words of the angels to the shepherds, ‘I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all peoples.’ It is an unending song of invitation, echoing through all ages, for all people. The shepherds were the lowest in society, and would be among those who were not invited to anything. They must have thought that they would not be welcome at the birth of a king, yet they were the first to receive the invitation, and the first people to see the new-born child.’
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby writes: ‘The shepherds were astonished to find the night sky filled with angels singing God’s praise. And before long they were singing, too… Centuries later, singing is still central to how many of us celebrate Christmas.
‘We invite you this Christmas to follow the star, journey to the manger, join the song and come into the presence of Jesus Christ.’ Our churches are inviting you this Christmas to gather together to celebrate the birth of Jesus with your family, friends and neighbours.
The carol services, crib services, Christingles and other events are your opportunity to respond to the invitation to follow the star, push open the door and enter into the joy of Christmas.
After Christmas, the great invitation to follow the star as the wise men did, leads us to wonder again at the miracle of Christmas, and to enter into a story that lasts long after Christmas has finished. It is a story that we can carry with us into the year ahead, as we navigate our way through the uncertainties that we may face: health worries, social and economic stresses, and the conflicts that are escalating in different parts of the world.
I always find the start of the new year a mixture of hope and uncertainty, and I draw comfort from a poem quoted by King George VI in 1939 during his Christmas broadcast to a country facing the uncertainly of war.
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied: Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’
The Gate of the Year, Minnie Haskins, 1875-1957
As we approach the start of a new year, may we turn to the same God to guide us through the gate of the year into 2024.
Will you let him hold your hand in his as we journey together through the joys and sorrows, the highs and lows of life, and will you answer the great invitation to come to him just as we are, and take the light and hope of the Christ child into our homes, schools,workplaces and communities?
Wishing you every blessing for Christmas and the New Year,
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