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A Letter from Fr Andy

This will be my last article until the February letter.  So, I’d like to take this opportunity, on behalf of my wife and me, to wish everyone a happy and holy Christmas and a blessed New Year.  I would like to thank everyone too for their ongoing prayers, support, and best wishes during my illness.  It’s a long road but I’m grateful that I have a road and that I am travelling along it in the right direction. 

 

As I sit here, in mid-November, I am aware that the battle for the best Christmas TV advert has begun.  Whilst I am constantly disappointed by how early the commercial side of Christmas kicks in, there are some good messages in many of these TV adverts.  John Lewis bring us Elton John looking back over his life to the first piano he got and makes the point that the little gifts we give to people now may have long-lasting and far reaching effects on them.  So, perhaps we should consider what we will give someone this Christmas that might have a long-lasting effect on them.  The M&S advert asks individuals to say what makes Christmas special for them.  As expected, all the answers are available in M&S shops or on-line, so Jesus doesn’t get a look in, but it leaves us with the proposal that the most special thing about Christmas is ‘the magic’.  Now I’m not suggesting I agree literally with them but there is something that’s difficult to explain or understand that is at the heart of Christmas.  My personal favourite, this year, is the one from Boots.  It paraphrases the Robbie William’s song ‘She’s the one’; in this version that line becomes ‘She’s my mum’.  The story line is that a teenage girl sees her mum as being someone who tries but doesn’t quite get it right and someone who is determined to spoil her daughter’s fun.  Then she comes across her taking part in something and she sees her in a new light and begins to appreciate her more.  Is there anything we can do this Christmas to show we appreciate others or, perhaps, something to help them appreciate what it is that is at the centre of our Christmas – Jesus Christ; God made man.

 

Trying to swim against the commercialisation of this great feast and earth shattering, life changing, event may seem impossible.  All that seems to matter is what presents we might get or give, what food we might eat, or what we might entertain ourselves with.  I suggest that two things seem to be forgotten consistently.  The first is that it’s not the gift that matters but the act of giving and, even more than that, the giving should be done out of love (not out of a desire to impress or outdo).  The second is whose birthday it is.  We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ don’t we, so why is it that we expect presents?  Through the events of Christmas and Easter, God has given us the greatest gift that anyone could ever give and yet, on Christ’s birthday, we expect presents – what do we give him?

 

There are so many wonderful songs and carols about as we enter Advent (That’s the period leading up to Christmas.  Let’s not forget that Christmas does not begin until Christmas Day).  I think the most challenging of these is ‘In the bleak midwinter’, particularly the last verse:


What can I give him, poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb.

If I were a wise man, I would do my part.

Yet what I can I give him – give my heart.

 

Let’s give him our heart afresh this Christmas.               

      

God bless        

 

Fr Andy

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