The Reader's Rumblings - Dec 2016 & Jan 2017

The Reader’s Rumblings – December/January

There used to be a television programme hosted by a group of grumpy old men. I found it amusing and at the time thought I would never be like them. How time and age can change a person! I can now grumble with the best of them, as my wife and daughters will happily testify.

And fairly top of my list of grumbles is Christmas. ‘Bah humbug’ I hear you cry. But please bear me out.

The commercialisation and early preparedness for Christmas irritates me enormously. The apparent mass overlooking of the true meaning of Christmas saddens me. The old joke – ‘it is a shame they brought religion into Christmas’ – may be amusing to some, but it is so close to the truth of how the majority perceive this season.

Christmas is not like it used to be when I was a child, when all I got for Christmas in my stocking was an orange and a lump of coal – no that’s not true; I am not that old; but presents were limited. The food we enjoyed at Christmas seemed to only be available at that time of year; and Christmas specials on the television were ‘special’; uplifting and not designed to send you in to fits of despondency. I must stop now as space is limited.

But despite all the changes over the years, one thing has remained constant. At Christmas we celebrate the fact that over two thousand years ago, God, in the form of the baby Jesus became involved in the pain and the tears of ordinary human beings like you and me. He is still involved, today and every day, in turning lives around. God joined our family at Christmas so we can join His. The baby born in a stable was given two names: ‘Emmanuel’, meaning ‘God with us’, and ‘Jesus’, God saves.

Please come along to one of our Christmas services and rediscover the true meaning of Christmas and I can assure you, this will be one Christmas gift you will not have to contemplate returning. You will also be guaranteed a warm welcome.

I have been reminded this magazine covers two months, so here I am sat at my desk in mid-November thinking about 2017 and what it may hold for us all.

On the 8th January 2017, we celebrate Epiphany (the actual festival is on the 6th – twelve days after Christmas) when we commemorate the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus. But hold on I hear you say – surely the Magi came Christmas Day evening? There are those that believe Christmas is over by Boxing Day or whenever they return to work - decorations are packed away – including the omnipresent crib scene with the baby Jesus. But as my old Priest in Cornwall, where I used to live, always maintained, Christmastime does not really start until Christmas Day and it lasts until Candlemass at the beginning of February.

(Oh no what have I started? Another marketing opportunity for our retailers?)

So what will be my resolution for 2017 – to be less grumpy; to complain less about Portsmouth Football Club; to be a calmer driver; my wife will say ‘some hope’; so I will just stick with something I know I need to work on – placing more trust in God.

I hope and pray you have a peaceful and happy Christmastime and please spare a moment or two in all your busyness to ponder on what I, and many like me, know to be the true meaning of Christmas.  And very best wishes for 2017.

Martin Brown – Reader at St John the Baptist Church, Westbourne
 

List of Christmas services 2016 at St John the Baptist, Westbourne and Woodmancote Chapel


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