Dear friends,

I wish to assure you that notwithstanding what you might read in the popular press, Christmas will not be cancelled! As we do every year, we begin our preparations for Christmas on Advent Sunday and through the oddity of the calendar it happens to fall on 29th November. It will be an especial day for us as we welcome Bishop Stephen Croft to celebrate the Confirmation of Sue, Amanda and Julie – what a wonderful way to prepare for the joy of Christmas by welcoming three of the congregation into the formal fellowship of the church as they make their profession of faith in front of the whole congregation gathered not only in the building but also present through the medium of the Zoom Conference Call. We have become quite proficient at using this technology although we have experienced too frequently the frustration of a failing internet connection using the 4G network! This is something I trust will be in the past as we look forward to being linked to the broadband network with a new wired connection, in the next week or two.

Our attempts at prayer are sometimes rather like our patchy connection to the internet: as we prepare ourselves to pray, we sometimes think that our connection with God has got lost and we begin to wonder whether he is even “there” let alone that he has heard our prayer. The promise he has made is gloriously unconditional that he will never leave us or forsake us – whatever we might do or fail to do.

As our Government continues to try to exercise some form of control on what seems to be a deepening health crisis, let us hope that we will be able to exercise our own discretion and take responsibility for deciding how we can integrate back into our community, that we might shine a beacon of light into the dark places of our world as we reflect the glory of God in our Christian ministry. Whist it is going to be difficult to talk of the love of God shown in his gift of Jesus at Christmas, if we are not able to share that love through our quiet, gentle but persuasive witness, let us look for other ways to express our faith: if you are likely to be unable to meet up with your family at Christmas, why not plan to invite someone who is on their own to share Christmas Day with you. Remember… “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” What a wonderful celebration that will be!

May you know God’s especial blessing at this time,

Paul

Rev’d Paul Boddam-Whetham