Rev Dave’s Christmas Message 2022

As I sit down to write my reflection for this edition of Parish News, we have just remembered those who died in war and those who have passed away during the last year within our Parish. November is a month for remembering, All Saints Day, the 5th of November, Remembrance Sunday and as we get later in the month, to remember to make our Christmas puddings on ‘mix up Sunday’ and just before we enter the period of Advent, Christ as our King.

It is good to remember, it can sometimes be painful, but it is through our remembering that we can begin to heal. We can smile at fond memories and perhaps most importantly, we can learn from what has gone before. When I come to this time of year, and start to think about what I might share, I often look back at previous ramblings I have submitted for Parish News. Partly so I don’t repeat myself, partly to give some inspiration and continuity and partly because I have a short memory and can’t always remember what I said. But this is why it is good to have set days to remember, we all forget things, we partially recall but often not in the greatest detail and we fail to reflect on all that went well and those things we can learn from.

As I look back at 2022 and remember all that has happened, it has been a momentous year. Politically, with 3 Prime Minister and a Government in turmoil. In the world, not least with war in Ukraine and nationally as we all try to cope with surging inflation and interest rates. But of course, perhaps the most significant event that happened this year was in September, when we mourned together the death of our Queen. Many people, myself included, were surprised at their own depth of sadness at the death of the Queen. She was the only monarch many of us have ever known and the seeming suddenness of her death caught many out. In one way it should not have been totally unexpected but in so many ways it was. It deeply impacted so many and for those who had lost their own loved ones, either recently or some time ago, the national mourning seemed to open up some wounds that many thought had been dealt with. I think for those I spoke to, in most cases those things had probably been dealt with, but there was still a great sense of loss and sadness that felt slightly unexplained.

However, within her death and for all the sadness, there also seemed to be a sense of hope. The Queen’s faith in God always shone through and I think that as we witnessed the week of mourning and her funeral in particular, we saw the grace in which she went about her role, the steadfastness her faith gave her and how the love she had for her Saviour transferred itself into all that she did and with all those she met.

As we enter Advent once again, we remember the birth of our Saviour. It is perhaps a story that we know all too well and we get lost in the perceived story, we think we know. We fail to recognise that at the heart of this Christmas story it is not a beginning as we so often think. Christmas is not the end and in fact is not even the start of the Christian story. It is the middle act of a story full of hope and grace for everyone. At creation, the Christian faith tells us that we were made for so much more than this earthly life and we were in fact made for a relationship with God. Due to our own selfishness and greed and pride, this relationship was broken. But at Christmas we remember that God did not leave us to it, but stepped in to repair that relationship. Jesus’ birth, was God in human form, coming to earth to restore a relationship that on our own we never would have been able to repair.

But it is at Easter, when we remember Jesus death and glorious resurrection, where we see this relationship restored. It is through Jesus we can once again, dwell with our Father in heaven. That was the hope and the faith the Queen clung to and she was an example of how each of us might live. However, through Jesus we have the ultimate example of how we should live. Through Jesus teaching, through the way he lived his life, we have a blueprint as to how each of us should live.

As we enter a New Year, I encourage to look back and remember all the good things, and perhaps some of those things that haven’t been so good. But then look forward. My prayer is that 2023 will be a year of hope and a recognition of God’s grace in your lives.

Earlier in the year at St Anne’s we changed our worship patterns, and these can be found, in this newsletter, on our Facebook page and on our website. There are now more ways than ever for you to engage with your local church and I want to encourage you, as you journey on in your own walk of faith, to join us. Join us with hope for the new year, with hope for the future and ultimately with the hope that our Queen so wonderfully displayed, that through Jesus we will all dwell together in eternity with God.

Happy Christmas and have a wonderful New Year.

Rev Dave.