December – a month of anticipation. We celebrate the season of Advent during which we wait and prepare for the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Preparing for Jesus who is the light of the world to come into our lives and to transform us and the dark world around us.

Many of you especially those who have children, will be using an Advent calendar to tick off the days to Christmas, this maybe a chocolate one, or one with pictures behind the windows, or maybe you will light a candle which burns down each day.  In the church we count down the weeks with our Advent ring, this has four candles on the outside. We light one for each of the Sundays of Advent and then the white candle in the middle is lit at Midnight on Christmas Eve.  This symbolises that Jesus is born.

The story of one family of refugees from Syria in last month’s magazine touched many of us and brought home even more the pain of those fleeing the conflict in that country. For them and the thousands of other migrants Christmas will be very different.  We need to pray for them and also the aid agencies who are trying to help. 

Our Lord Jesus and Mary and Joseph knew the pain of having to flee their country. Soon after Jesus was born, King Herod decided to kill all the baby boys under the age of two, in attempt to kill Jesus who he feared would take his throne.  Joseph was told to flee to Egypt by an angel in his dream, to keep Jesus safe.

During his life on earth our Lord knew pain and suffering and at this early stage in his life  the pain of losing home and country. He stands alongside all who suffering at any time of the year be it physically, mentally or emotionally. Jesus identifies with each one of us, in all of our lives and wants to walk with us in our journey through life.  All we need to do is to invite him in. 

Most people who meet with families at the festive season will want to experience the same festive rituals and feasting that they have come to see as ‘Christmas’,to them. I hope all of you have a happy time with family and friends but please think of those who have lost a loved one this year.  It can be a hard time, missing that person and having to develop a new way of celebrating Christmas.

Of course we all need to get ready for all of this and it takes time and preparation, We can get lost in the busyness, the buying, the wrapping, the decorating and cooking but we need to not allow this frantic activity to upset our quiet centre which is the place within us that is our relationship with God.  Our prayer time, bible reading time is important if we are going to develop and grow our relationship. To be ready to welcome again Jesus into our lives. 

So how will we plan in those few moments of quiet, which are essential for us. It could be  when we open the calendars, when we wake in the morning, as we eat a meal or before we go to sleep at night.  I suggest planning our times of quiet will help us to welcome Jesus into our lives anew at this Christmas time. 

There are many carol services and church services planned for this time of year and to find out more, please see the lists in the magazine, or the ‘Christmas in Denmead’ website.  A warm welcome awaits you at any and all of the services as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.   

With love at Christmas time and prayers for a Blessed New Year.