Vicar’s December Letter

Dear Friends,

Jaded by Christmas already? Feel you’ve heard the same story so many times? Already exhausted by the unending Christmas ads of gifts and food, that, of course you MUST buy?….And we didn’t even pause at Advent, if we’ve managed to hold on to Advent anyway – and it’s only the beginning of December. Some have even put up trees in the middle of November. It’s no wonder the enthusiasm has pretty much passed by mid-December, following the countless Christmas parties, dinners, and constant commercialism wherever you turn. In the face of all this, I would still say there’s something important you’ve missed, and that the Christmas story, rather than being something you’ve heard several times, is, in fact, a window to see things very differently, and is a potential source of new wonder and meaning.

During Advent – the first four weeks of December, we hear bible readings in church that tell us of the prophets and God’s people all those years ago who were waiting for the light to come into the world, changing it for ever. At Midnight Mass and on Christmas Day, we look back to the very first Christmas and celebrate that the light has come in Jesus, the Christ-child, and we look ahead to the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise to be with us again. So, Christmas is a serious celebration and full of extraordinary significance for all of us. Connecting to the Christmas story can be a great lens to consider our own lives, where there is already light and hope, and areas where God’s light is yet to come. Making space to connect afresh to the birth of Jesus, and the journey of God’s people in recognising who he is, can open a dimension in us, bringing added richness. There is so much to take part in – the joy and wonder of God becoming one of us, and the knowledge we are all included. So, if you’re lacking enthusiasm for the present season, I wonder if re-visiting the Christmas story afresh, with the expectation of joy and wonder, might turn your thoughts and feelings around.

As the prophet Isaiah says,

For a child has been born for us,
    a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
    and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

Blessings for a Holy Advent and a Joyful Christmas – when it comes,

Revd Catherine
Vicar of Ampleforth with Oswaldkirk, Gilling East and Stonegrave


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