All Saints Oving

Vicar’s Christmas Message

Dear friends,

You want to know about a miracle? Here’s one!

I have been known to buy my lovely wife Sarah dresses for Christmas. I’ve known her long enough to figure out what style of dress she likes, the colour, pattern and size. So far I’ve managed a few gold stars for getting it right! That’s the miracle! There was one faux pas in Boots when I was choosing a lipstick for her, and when presenting it to the girl on the checkout, received a rather puzzled look. “But this is the tester sir!”

It seems to get harder every year to buy presents for family that you know they will appreciate. Presents that won’t end up being recycled and passed on to some other unsuspecting victim of your generosity! I think it’s quite fun to surprise the one you love with something a little different, a little imaginative. One year I found some Christmas wrapping paper with a brussels sprout pattern which I used to wrap a box full of – you guessed it – brussels sprouts. I presented this to Sarah as her main present, much to the hilarity of the children who were looking on. She loves brussels sprouts, so I was on to a winner! Don’t worry. When she dug a little deeper into the sprouts box, there was a smaller box with some special jewellery in it. I think she has come to expect a few surprises at Christmas!

And for me, that’s the wonderful thing about the Christmas story, it’s full of surprises. But you have to dig a little deeper below the surface of the story to understand what the true gift of Christmas is. I love all the trimmings – the tree, decorations, mince pies, Christmas pudding, crackers, family and friends, parties, the Queen’s Speech, celebrations in church, Midnight Communion, giving and receiving gifts and of course, the turkey! However, it’s a shame when we get carried along in a band-wagon and miss the whole point of the Christmas story.

The birth of Christ in Bethlehem was the most staggering surprise of all to many. It shouldn’t have been such a surprise, because there are over three hundred predictions about the birth, life and death of Christ in the Old Testament, written hundreds of years before the events took place. But the event of the birth of Christ still took many by surprise. The big surprise was the way in which God broke into space and time as a baby in a manger, when most people thought he would come with an army to throw out the occupying Roman legions. Their “Messiah” wasn’t what God intended at all. One of Jesus’ names is “Emmanuel” and it means “God with us.”

And that’s the point. God comes to where we are to show us the way, the truth and the life. That’s the real miracle of Christmas.

May you and all those you love and care for, have blessings galore this Christmas!

Revd Steve