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December 2021

From the Rector

As always, Christmas has come upon me suddenly and unawares. No sooner is Remembrance Sunday out of the way, we inevitably seem to skip Advent, the Christmas marketing shifts up a gear, and I am already panicking about posting my Christmas cards in time and wondering what on earth to buy for my wife.

It can be easy to feel out-of-step with things and generally behind at this time of year, until we remember that, despite the advertising campaigns and even the early Carol Services in church, Christmas doesn’t officially begin until 25th December. Not only that, the Christmas season proper lasts well beyond the Twelfth Night, until the feast of Candlemas (2nd February). Yet we invariably celebrate it early and by the time New Year comes we are itching to pack away the decorations and put Christmas behind us, even though it has really only just begun.

As we shift Christmas back a month and begin the familiar celebrations early, we can often take the extraordinary story of Christmas for granted. At Christmas we celebrate the fact that God saw a world which is out-of-step with his loving and generous purposes and so he sent his Son, a tiny and vulnerable baby, to redeem creation. All of that took preparation, and a journey.

As they travelled along, Mary and Joseph, as they prepared for the coming of Christ in the stable at Bethlehem that first Christmas Day, must have felt under-prepared and anxious about the huge responsibility placed upon them. The lead-up to Christ’s birth would have been difficult and challenging and very hard to prepare for.  Yet they managed, and the Saviour of the World was born in an inadequate, temporary home in Bethlehem, a somewhat disheveled and unglamorous city south of Jerusalem. Despite that inauspicious start, Mary and Joseph trusted in the message of God delivered by the angels—‘fear not’—and the angels continued to attend and reassure them, shepherds and kings drew close, and the baby grew out of human obscurity to reveal the fullness of God’s love. A love to conquer all fear; a love stronger than death.

The lead-up to Christmas should not be a time of anxiety or worry, but a time of fruitful preparation and expectation. The angels gave to Mary and Joseph the most often-repeated message of the Bible as they prepared for the birth: ‘fear not’. The message occurs 365 or more times (in one way or another) in the text of the Bible—that’s one ‘fear not’ or ‘do not be afraid’ for every day of the year.

However out-of-step or underprepared we may feel, there is plenty of time before Christmas. Fear not. The full effect of God’s love will arrive with us on 25th December and will stay with us: God did not send Jesus as a temporary decoration, but to be with us in all seasons, our saviour and friend forever.

Come and celebrate this with us this year. Details of our Christmas services and events can be found in this magazine and online. There are lots of opportunities to join us in any of the six churches which make up our group, called the Holyford Mission Community. The full pattern of services has been up and running for most of the year now and at Christmas there will be all the usual services at Colyton and Colyford, Branscombe, Musbury, Southleigh and Northleigh, plus other events. If you are still worried about attending busier services because of the threat of Covid, you may wish to consider coming along to one of the smaller churches to celebrate the festive season, or attend our outdoor crib service at Colyton on Christmas Eve (indoors if wet). Please see our website (Holyford.org) Facebook page (@holyfordmission) or contact a churchwarden or me for details of the types of services there will be, and times. 

On behalf of all of us at the six churches of the Holyford Mission Community, I wish you all a happy, joyful and peaceful time as you prepare for Christmas.

With every good wish and blessing,

Fr Steven.

1 comment to December 2021

  • Mrs Jacqui Fuller

    Lovely letter Fr Steven. We met briefly in April at Doreen Hayes cremation. A lovely lady with whom I kept in touch with for many years. She always communicated a love of Branscombe village, and,at this time of carollers being pulled through on tractor to sing outside her cottage and refreshments of sherry! So, as she has passed I would love to come down (we live near Bornemouth)) as a final farewell to her and wondered when (if) this event may be? Do hope to hear from you, I know you are busy.Sincerely Jacqui Fukler

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