Letter from the Priest in Charge and Parish Notices

Dear All,
The fourth chapter of Jane Williams’ book Approaching Christmas is about Gifts. “What are we to make of this strange gift that God gives us? Is it at all what we wanted? If we imagined that God was going to give us a present, is this truthfully what we might have expected? Perhaps we may have been thinking more along the lines of the kinds of gifts that the good fairies bring to Sleeping Beauty in the old fairy story. They bring the new baby things like health and beauty, and the ability to make people love her. All of those would be genuinely delightful presents to be given, and surely
well within God’s means? But God’s gifts seem to be rather more surprising. Look, for example, at what Mary gets when an angel comes to tell her about God’s gift to her. I wonder if Mary’s heart rose a little, after the initial shock of seeing an angel at all. After all, he starts by telling her that she has been particularly chosen by God. She could be forgiven for hoping for something rather special. And, of course, she does get something rather special, but it is going to cause her quite a lot of trouble and hardship, this present of God’s, as well as a lot of joy. She is going to have to bring up a
child whose mission will take him away from her and lead to his death. Even if she doesn’t realise that to begin with, she does realise that she is going to have to face a lot of questions about the origins of her unexpected pregnancy, and it is greatly to her credit that she accepts God’s unexpected present. She doesn’t bargain or suggest alternatives or ask if she can swap with someone else. She simply takes what God is offering. It is going to change her life and the lives of so many others. Mary is the ideal recipient of presents, it seems. She’s the kind of person who accepts the gift with delighted curiosity and waits to see how it works. She’s not the kind of person who opens their present cautiously and suspiciously, fearing the worst. Or the kind who lets it show on her face that she hates it and intends to take it back the minute the shop opens again. How lovely for God to give the best gift, the gift of Jesus, to someone who knows how to accept presents cheerfully. Any present God is going to give is likely to have unforeseen consequences, and it may not be exactly what you had asked for, but it may also change your life in ways that you couldn’t imagine or begin to hope for.”

The Reverend Anne Price

Parish Notices

  • CWS Christmas Appeal envelopes are available today. Please return in the collection at one of the Christmas services.
  • Service of Nine Lessons and Carols: today at 7:00 pm. Refreshments afterwards, please bring a plate.
  • Christmas Flower Donations: please give to Jill Woodside today.
  • The Parish Administrator will be on annual leave from Tuesday until 22 January. All essential tasks undertaken in the office have been covered for this period. If necessary please contact one of the Wardens.
  • Crib and Carol Service: Friday at 5:30 pm.
  • Working Bee: Saturday 10:00 am. More helpers needed!
  • S. Michael’s School is now on holiday.
  • Christmas Banners: at least two banner bearers needed for 11:30 pm Christmas Eve and one for Christmas Day 10:00 am. Offers to Ann Jinman (347 8290).
  • Book Swap: on bookshelves in the lounge. Koha to parish.
  • Recycling Electronic Equipment: please put unwanted phones etc in the box at the back of the church or take to the parish office. Details Jenny Daniels (347 7629).
  • Please continue to support the Mission during the holidays with your gifts of food and household goods. Still needed for the Mission Christmas Dinner: food supplies (meat, vegetables, desserts, soft drinks) and presents (unwrapped) for all ages. Gifts may be placed in the Inasmuch Basket today. Large or perishable items should be delivered directly to 276 Hereford Street.

Letter from the Priest in Charge and Parish Notices

Dear All,

The third chapter of Jane Williams’ book Approaching Christmas is about Decorations. “Perhaps without knowing it, Christmas decorations are helping the world to rejoice in its creation. God’s act in making the world, described in the Bible story of the creation in the book of Genesis, does sound quite like festive decoration. First of all there is nothing, then there is a bare and empty expanse. God begins decorating by sprinkling trees, flowers, grass, fruit trees and all kinds of vegetation liberally about. Then God hangs lights, which are on a very good timer switch, called day and night. But when God does Christmas decorations, they last forever. Cunningly, God decorates the Christmas world using things that are just part of the workaday world: ordinary working people, like Joseph the carpenter, who is to be the father and protector of the new baby; or some shepherds, just getting on with their boring menial job. Nobody takes much notice of shepherds because they have to spend so much of their time out in the fields, and they have no gossip or anything to contribute to the bustling social life they generally miss out on. I wonder if it was partly to make the
shepherds feel at home that God allowed Jesus to be born in a stable: I can imagine that the shepherds wouldn’t have liked to visit the new baby if he was staying in a smart hotel. But out in the stable with the animals looking on, the shepherds look as though they belong in God’s Christmas collage, with the baby wrapped up in the straw at the centre of it. So the baby comes to change the world, not by drawing a bright veil of illusion over it,
but by living in the world as it was designed to be lived in. He lives in the world as one who knows that the world is God’s and that his job is to reflect God’s presence and ownership… Our Christmas decorations may never quite have the power and dynamism of God’s, but we can make them part of our conscious decision to live in God’s world as people who can join in with the activity of its maker. We can hang up our decorations, year by year, to celebrate with joy the creation and re-creation of the world. And when we take the decorations down again and put them away for another year, we can continue to live in the world that God decorates for us, and be part of the ongoing work of creation and restoration.”

Blessings,

The Reverend Anne Price

Parish Notices

  • Service of Nine Lessons and Carols: next Sunday at 7:00 pm. Refreshments afterwards, please bring a plate.
  • Roadworks: Thursday until 3:00 pm there will be no access to our Durham St parking area.
  • Because of the above, this week the Trumpet will be prepared on Wednesday.
  • Christmas Flower Donations: please give to Jill Woodside (Sundays), or to the parish office (weekday mornings).
  • Lunch at Regatta on Avon: today at 12 noon. Details Alice.
  • Concert—Share the Gift: today at the Cathedral, 2:00 pm. See poster.
  • Communion at Three: today. All welcome.
  • Working Bee: 23 December 10:00 am. More helpers needed!
  • Christmas Banners: at least two banner bearers needed for 11:30 pm Christmas Eve and one for Christmas Day 10:00 am. Offers to Ann Jinman (347 8290).
  • Book Swap: on bookshelves in the lounge. Koha to parish.
  • Recycling Electronic Equipment: please put unwanted phones etc in the box at the back of the church or take to the parish office. Details Jenny Daniels (347 7629).

Letter from the Priest in Charge and Parish Notices

Dear All

Advent is a truly wonderful time of year. I have a beautiful little book on my shelves written by Jane Williams, the wife of Rowan Williams, who is a theologian in her own right, titled ‘Approaching Christmas’. The illustrations are rich with fine art. Its chapters focus on things that we associate with Christmas, such as making lists, decorations, gifts, Christmas trees, music, food and family. Below is an extract from the chapter about making lists.

The next part of God’s Christmas list is to prepare the right setting for the birth. Here too God shows surprising restraint, even – dare we think it? – inefficiency. After all those centuries of making lists and getting things ready, Jesus is finally born in a stable because his parents can’t find a hotel room in the crowded town. All the rest of us would book ahead, especially with everyone coming home to be counted for the census. But not God.

God does send a big group of angels, singing loudly and joyfully, but arranges all of that for a group of shepherds. God could have sent the angels to a large crowded city, and called all the people to come and witness the birth of Jesus and bring him presents and help to spread the good news about what God is doing. But instead all those angels set off for a hillside and sing to a small group of shepherds, and then they send them off to look at the baby. Being angels, it never enters their heads that they are perhaps over-qualified for the job God has given them. They do not think that their brightness and their music are wasted on the shepherds, because nothing that God wants can possibly be wasted……..

All this planning and work on God’s part and what comes of it? Just a little baby born in obscurity, noticed only by a few characters. All those centuries of planning, for this? Surely there must be some mistake? Shouldn’t God’s action be impossible to miss? Has it gone horribly wrong?

But perhaps, if we try to get into God’s imagination, we might begin to see the point of Christmas all over again. God’s strange preparations are a tender mixture of the ordinary and extraordinary. Angels and stars and prophets from centuries ago join with shepherds and travellers and Mary and Joseph to celebrate God’s Christmas present to us – God’s son, Jesus, who is, just as Isaiah says, Immanuel: a demonstration that God is with us.”

 

Parish Notices

  • Advent Carol Service: readings and music to mark the beginning of Advent. Tonight at 7:00 pm in the church.
  • Christmas Flower Donations: please give to Jill Woodside (Sundays), or to the parish office (weekday mornings).
  • Ordination of Women in NZ: 40th anniversary today Cathedral 3:00 pm.
  • Needlework Group final meeting for the year: DVD’s and Christmas supper at Jill Woodside’s, Tuesday from 7:00 pm. Please bring a small plate of finger food.
  • Lunch at Regatta on Avon: next Sunday at 12 noon. Details Alice.
  • Communion at Three: next Sunday. All welcome.
  • Parish Breakfast: not in December—the next will be on 10 February 2018.
  • Book Swap: on bookshelves in the lounge. Koha to parish.
  • Recycling Electronic Equipment: please put unwanted phones etc in the box at the back of the church or take to the parish office. Details Jenny Daniels (347 7629).