The New Year is traditionally a time when we say farewell to the old year and welcome in the new one and I feel sure we will all be very happy to send 2020 off on its way into history! Who could have foreseen this time last year what lay ahead for us all and of course as I write this letter just before Christmas we still don’t know whether lockdowns can now be a thing of the past or whether we face another one in January. That awful phrase ‘the new normal’ I hope will filter away and perhaps Pope Francis puts it better calling it ‘not an era of change but change of an era’? Something to reflect on?!
Throughout this year we have all had to adjust to a different way of living and being. Who would know that wearing masks would now be mandatory in many situations and even can be a fashion accessory? As a church and community we have had to adjust quickly to all the different rules and regulations, trusting that somehow we will survive even though at times certain things haven’t necessarily made sense! Hopefully you have felt supported by all that has been there and as usual our wonderful community pulled together to provide essential supplies to those who couldn’t get out. Those support systems are still in place by the way, even if some have been scaled down they can easily be scaled back up again.
Most of all though, the important thing has been and continues to be about protecting one another as we have tried to live our lives whilst all the time offering love and support to one another. If you or someone else needs assistance please do contact me or one of the church team in confidence so we can signpost you in the right direction. Can I remind you that I have food bank vouchers for anyone who needs them and that anyone can use the food bank whether they have been given a voucher or not. No one is turned away.
Hopefully our Christmas services in church will take place and a reminder that there are two services on Christmas Day, 9.30am at Ockley – with a short Christmas quiz and
carols, which unfortunately the congregation will not be able to sing yet! At 10.30 at Capel there will be a service of Christmas Communion. Don’t be put off by Communion if you are not a regular attendee, you will still enjoy the service and can receive a blessing at the rail instead of the bread and wine. There is also going to be an online Christmas service on our website available to view from Christmas Day onwards.
We also have a special treat on Sunday 27th December when the postponed Cafe Church from earlier in December will be inviting us to join them in a Christmas Cafe Church with some rather special carols….
Following Christmas, January brings us into the season of Epiphany when we celebrate one particular element in the story of Christ’s birth, the visit of the far traveled magi which is understood as the revealing of Christ to the Gentiles. As we continue through these winter months, let us rejoice that already the nights are drawing shorter, the light of day is staying longer even now. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly this begins to happen. The magi travelled with trust in their science of astrology (or is it an art?!) Trusting in their knowledge, they followed the star which shone brightly in the sky, not knowing where they would end up but they sensed it was going to lead to something important. This year we have all heard about ‘following the science’ and ‘trusting in the science’ which has guided us through thus far and is set to provide us with a way out with the new vaccines. The magi used their science in order to make a discovery, to satisfy their curiosity as to what the birth of this new star in the sky meant. On arrival they paid homage to this new born king realising that whoever this child was, his birth pointed to something far bigger than anything they had ever known before. Let us remember then that we are all part of something far bigger than ourselves – science helps us discover more and more about God – and it is easy to feel somewhat hemmed into our own small worlds, particularly in these times. I pray that you may feel curious and want to know more about what’s ‘out there’ and that your horizons are widened as you discover or rediscover the child in the manger who is the Light of the World! I do hope that you find Comfort and Joy this Christmas along with the hope that only Christ can bring amid the uncertainty of these times. Peace be with you and yours and Happy New Year
With my love and prayers as ever…
Vicar of St John the Baptist Capel and St. Margaret’s Church Ockley
Post expires at 10:13pm on Tuesday December 14th, 2021