December 2017 - January 2018

The decorations are up, the lights are on and we are starting to count down the Sundays of Advent. So much to plan! So many arrangements to make! So little time!

Once again we journey through this special time - and with what seems to be at an ever accelerating pace every year.

There is a danger that we become so focussed on the demands of Christmas that we lose the sense of wonder and joy that the season brings. In other words, we can easily feel so overwhelmed that Christmas becomes a burden and, as a result, something that we no longer look forward to. I am not sure what the answer is but we need to ensure that what is often referred to as ‘the reason for the season’ does not become lost amongst the pressures and demands of a modern Christmas.

As I reflected on my letter, I thought it would be wonderful if I had a simple solution to ensure that everyone could have a meaningful celebration of the birth of the Christ child. However, I too find myself struggling with pressures of deadlines, lack of time to achieve everything, and coping with the fear that Christmas will arrive before I’m ready - both as a minister leading congregations and as an individual Christian seeking to reflect on the incarnation. Perhaps focussing on the journey to Bethlehem, the birth of the Christ child in a stable and the baby Jesus being laid in a manger will help us realise that things were not as Mary and Joseph would have wanted. Yet, this birth is still being celebrated two thousand years later. We ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at the annual Nativity services. It’s a special story and one that we treasure. There is great excitement on the faces of the young folk as they re-enact (in their own way) the birth of the baby Jesus. They are enthralled… and maybe the solution to the demands pressing on our time and energies is as simple as recapturing the joy and wonder of children.

In the Baptismal Service, Jesus says ‘Let the children come unto me and do not stop them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’. There’s a profound message there for all of us! Therefore, just as Mary and Joseph were not prepared for that first Christmas and even although we do everything we can to be ready, may we learn from the younger generations to simply enjoy the season. Hopefully, every time we pass Rankin or Chapelton Churches and see the Nativity scenes we will remember ‘For God so loved the world that he sent His only Son…’

Wishing you a wonderful and meaningful Christmas,

With every good wish,
Shaw J Paterson

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