Letter for December

The late Pauline Webb was a Methodist Minister, who travelled the world, visiting Churches on behalf of the World Council of Churches.

One December she was in Canada, visiting a Church where a little girl was thrilled because she was, for the first time taking part in a Nativity Play, having been asked to play the part of the chief angel!

Pauline, sensing her delight asked the little girl to tell her about Christmas, she went into great detail, the journey to Bethlehem, the crowded Inn, the stable, the shepherds in the fields, the message of the Angels, the visit of the Wise Men.............suddenly she stopped “Haven’t you heard this before?” she asked Pauline, “Yes” replied Pauline, but not in the way you tell it!

The Christmas story is new to each generation, if we want to recapture afresh sense of the awe and wonder of the Word made Flesh, we have to have a Christian Advent, aided by the wonderful Advent hymns such “Hark, the glad sound the Saviour comes”; “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” “On Jordan’s bank the Baptist cry” “Lo, He comes with clouds descending”, and so on to Christmas.

How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given

As God imparts to human hearts, the blessings of His Heaven

No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin,

Where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in”

The period leading up to Christmas is inevitably very busy, this year more so than usual, with a certain political event taking place.

How can we remain focussed on the Mystery of the Incarnation, and arrive at Christmas with the same joy and thanksgiving as the little Canadian girl?

One way might be to pray each day the prayer of St. Richard of Chichester

‘Thanks be to our Lord Jesus Christ,

For all the benefits which you have given us,

For all the pains and insults you have borne for us,

Most Merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,

May we know you more clearly,

Love you more dearly,

And follow you more nearly,

Day by Day.

Paul Harper  (Reader Emeritus)