The Parish of Burchetts Green

For some, Christmas can unfortunately be a difficult time when the breakdown of family relationships, illness and bereavement need to be acknowledged and sympathetically addressed. Suffering takes many forms and learning how to be caring and compassionate flows from our quiet reflective time with God.

Michael Ramsey,a former Archbishop of Canterbury who was widely known and revered as a wise and 'father-like' leader of the church, was once asked how he would define wisdom. He replied that he would describe wisdom as the ability to cope.

Coping as we know means possessing the ability to remain steady and focused on what needs to be done when under stress. Coping is about resilience, perseverance, compassion and practical application. All these gifts, which are shown to us in the life of Jesus, combine to give wisdom. As we are called to be a more 'Christ-like church', Advent preparation is a good place to begin.

We have the opportunity to make our personal commitment to discipleship once again. Each year we can reaffirm our faith and make the changes, however small, that will take us forward with a new sense of purpose.

The anticipation and excitement of Christmas is felt by us all but is even more meaningful and satisfying when we have prepared well. May I wish you all a happy and blessed Christmas with renewed hope in Jesus Christ.

by Rev Dilys

'Time waits for no man' and we find we have reached another year end!

The cycle of the Christian year begins again on Advent Sunday, December 3, and we move into a time of reflection, contemplation and practical action as we prepare for one of the church's main festivals of celebration at Christmas.

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus who was sent by God to be the Saviour of the world. The Christmas season is a time of joy and hopefulness when we can, with faith, believe that whilst the world in which we live seems to be chaotic, God is reconciling the world to himself through Jesus Christ. Advent is also about looking forward into the future; to the time when Jesus will come again to be our judge.

This aspect of Advent hope is often overlooked because it makes us feel uncomfortable. It is a reminder though to initiate some gentle self- appraisal of our faith journey. Are there aspects of our life that could do with some changes?

This is not meant as a negative exercise, but rather a positive move to make changes that will have a benefit not only to us personally but to those around us. A simple prayer for a clearer vision can help.

As we approach Christmas, we can find ourselves caught up in a whirlpool of busy ness which leaves little time or space for contemplation. Waiting and watching is part of Advent preparation.

To truly appreciate Christmas we need the next four weeks of Advent to draw closer to God, too seek his presence in our lives and to understand how we can help others to do the same. It takes courage to run against the tide of consumerism when we are being bombarded with things we must buy and do in order to have a good time over the festive period.