United Benefice of Morton and Stonebroom with Shirland


'The bells of waiting Advent ring.'

This is of course the opening line of Betjeman's well-known poem, “Christmas”.

 I am writing this letter on what has come to be known as Black Friday, and doubtless like you, I have been bombarded with emails from numerous companies inviting me to buy any number of goods at specially-discounted prices. Similarly, for weeks the shops have been decked-out with the trappings of Christmas, accompanied by Jingle Bells and dreams of a White Christmas; and the Christmas trees sparkle on the roadside lamp posts.

But stop!

As Betjeman reminds us, before all that comes Advent.

I firmly believe that as a society we have lost sight of Advent and its importance. In fact the Church recognises it to be so important that it is a Season in its own right, just like Lent. And as with Lent, it is a time to stop, to reflect, to re-appraise and yes, to repent. (And repent doesn't just mean regretting or saying sorry: it is also a call to action in terms of making amends in our lives.) This is the call before we embrace the festivities and celebrations which mark the Christmas Season. For me, the call is also to take times to withdraw from all that noise and busyness, to pray, to read and, if you like, to 're-ground' myself in God.

 In his book, Celebration of Discipline Richard Foster writes the following. 'In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in 'muchness' and 'manyness' he will rest satisfied.' Therefore, let us be counter-cultural and acknowledge the special place of Advent.

This is of course the December edition of the magazine, so despite the foregoing exhortation regarding Advent, I of course want to wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas. Also, to reiterate my thanks for your faithfulness and all the gifts and time which you invest in maintaining our Church life. Thank you.

With every blessing,   Fr Chris.

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