Dear Friends,

The build-up to Christmas has come upon us again, that time when we get caught up in a frenzy of preparation for the “big day”. What presents will I buy for the children who have “Christmas” every week? What food will I buy (frozen or fresh turkey this year)? Will I be able to avoid the last-minute rush (remember last year)? Have we enough booze in? Will we invite Auntie Gertie this year? (last year she ate hardly anything, drank the gin and slept all afternoon on the chair) And on and on it goes. Sorry, I forgot, and if we can get everything sorted in time, we'll get to one of the Christmas Eve Services.

Yes, I live in the real world, and I know that this is what it can be like. Christmas is a time when we can get lost in the sort of preparations urged on us by society and by the world of commerce. We feel pressured to behave like everyone else, just as we feel pressured by the retail industry to spend at Christmas to help them compensate for all the profit they have not made during the year.

However, in the midst of all that goes on at Christmas, let us try to find some time to remember why we celebrate Christmas. The four-week period leading up to Christmas is known as Advent, the time when we prepare ourselves to welcome once more the Christ-child into our lives. It is a time to reflect upon God's goodness to us, and to reflect especially upon the fact that God so loves us that he humbled himself to come into our world and live amongst us. This is what the “real Christmas” is about. This is what gives us cause to celebrate.

For some of us, Christmas this year may not be a time to let rip with our money because of more difficult financial times. Some of our children may not receive the presents they have become accustomed to. But we can all, no matter our circumstances, offer to one another, and especially to our children, the greatest gift of all......LOVE. The very love of God, revealed through each one of us as we care for one another. The love revealed in a vulnerable child, born in humble circumstances 2,000 years ago.

If you do get sorted out in time, come along to one of our Christmas services. You will receive a warm welcome.

May I wish you all a peaceful Christmas, and may we look forward in hope for a brighter year to follow.

       Rev Duncan Stenhouse, Locum Minister