- St Peter's Rectory
- Byers Green
- Co Durham
- DL16 7NL
Monthly Letter from Priest in Charge
I suspect that many of you are looking ahead to Christmas – some with enthusiasm, some with resignation and some, perhaps with dread. However, first we have Advent.
December is a dark and often chilly month with deep shadows and little sunshine. What is true of nature is echoed in our personal lives (death, illness, loneliness, relationship breakdown) and in the world around us (political and financial uncertainty, crime, terrorism). The Rt Rev Sarah Mullally, Bishop of Crediton, suggests that ‘The Advent voice calls to us across the centuries through Scripture. It is the call of God, a call of salvation and a call of hope’. (Mark Oakley, ed, A Good Year). She illustrates this point by quoting from a poem by Sir John Betjeman:
The Advent bells call out ‘Prepare’.
Your world is journeying to the birth
of God made Man for us on earth.
And so Advent is very much a season of preparation and of waiting – waiting for the birth of God made man for us. We think of God as an all- powerful being but, in the baby in the manger we see God becoming vulnerable as he is born, grows up, lives and dies. Because of this vulnerability he can truly enter into our own vulnerability, our own times of darkness and into the mess and suffering of the world as it is today. We don’t escape the challenges but we know that, in Jesus, God walks alongside us in our times of distress. That’s the wonder of Christmas. That’s what we are reminded of each year when we celebrate God’s coming into the world.
Advent is also a time of remembering that in this in-between time between Jesus’ first coming and the end of the world we can live in hope that ultimately there will be no more darkness, nor more shadows, as Jesus returns and fulfils and completes the new creation that he began with his death and resurrection. Just imagine a new reality where there is no more death, suffering, war, hatred or greed but instead there is total peace, joy, beauty and love. That is the hope that, as Christians, we hold on to and because we know that God fulfilled his promises to humanity with his first coming in the birth of Jesus so we know that God will fulfil his promise that Jesus will return one day and make all things new.
So whatever kind of Christmas you expect to have this year may you find time to watch and wonder at the extraordinary mystery that God came down to earth and dwelt here among us so that we in our turn might spend eternity dwelling with God.
Have a wonderful and blessed Christmas whether you are spending it with family, friends or on your own.