Clergy Letter   
from The Rev'd Graham Smith

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It doesn’t seem a month since I was thinking about how remembrance and memory are important in November.  For some of our community who are recently bereaved, heading towards Christmas can be a dark and gloomy time, and so our prayers and thoughts continue to be with them, their relatives, and other bereaved families seeking to make adjustments to their lives as the world, distracted by the busyness of the coming celebrations, fails to see their pain.

When I was a parish priest folk would often say ‘This is your busy time of year’. It is always kindly meant, although I never think that it is strictly true (but ask me on December 27th!).  For many people though, December is a very busy month and, as I implied above, it is also one of the darkest ones. But most of the darkness can be dispelled by thoughts of what Christmas really means: the birthday of the one who came to be the light of the world. The practical preparations seem to begin earlier every year, but I ask myself is there much spiritual preparation, even amongst Christians? Do we take time to pause in our activities to be thankful for the coming of Jesus - for all it meant and continues to mean? Jesus was born at a time when there was as much war, turmoil and injustice in the world as there is today, yet the Bethlehem baby became the teacher who taught the way of peace. He spoke of feeding the hungry, visiting prisoners, healing the sick, caring for widows and the fatherless. And his whole life was one of selfless service. And he left us his 'in-as-much-as' message: "In as much as…" we serve others in these ways, we are truly serving, him.

Can we light up the dull winter days by pondering upon these truths in a deeper way? I hope perhaps we can commit to the kind of preparation that will help us all to lead deeper spiritual lives and as we find deeper faith, then perhaps we shall be ready to re-dedicate ourselves to the service of those around us who are in material and spiritual need. This, I'm convinced, is the way to personal freedom.  It is also the key to a growing, loving and caring Christian Community.  I hope that we may all use Advent to prepare afresh to meet the Christ-child, and in that meeting be truly changed and set free.  Set free from all fretting self-concern, to care for others. To see Jesus in them and in many ways to be Jesus to them - the light and hope of the world.

                 May you have a faithful Advent and a Blessed and Peaceful Christmas                and a hope- filled New Year.

 Your friend and parish priest

Graham

A Pre-Christmas Prayer

Lord,soon we will celebrate your birth in Bethlehem in a cattle shed  

Forgive us that still today children are born in poverty  

Forgive us that so many this Christmas time will be cold and lonely  

We pray for homeless people seeking shelter, unemployed people seeking work,  

Hungry people needing food, parents crying for their children.  

Give us the spirit of compassion so that all

will have the opportunity for a full and fulfilling life.   

Amen



 









                                             

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A  VACANCY PRAYER 

Father God

During this vacancy,

guard and grow the people of this benefice as we serve you together

in this period without an incumbent.


Lord Jesus, teacher and friend

We know that you have plans for us

and that these plans are good.

We ask now that you will help us to share responsibility,

grow in faith, love one another, care for those in need,

reach out to others, and welcome newcomers.


Holy Spirit, gentle guide,

Please inspire those who are seeking the right person for us,

and those who are seeking the right place for their ministry,

That together we may discover your way for the future

and see your kingdom grow.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen