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
- 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.