When you're rushing around, trying to get a thousand and one things done, it is very easy to lose sight of the purpose of it all. The tasks seem to fill the whole screen, and there's no time to stop and think.
That's December, isn't it? The rush can so easily blot out the real meaning of Christmas. It's good to give presents to one another – but they should remind us of the first and most important Christimas present of all, when God gave us Jesus to be our Saviour. It's good to remember friends we haven't seen for a long time – because that reminds us that God never forgets us. And it's good to have parties and feasts – provided that amid all the festivities we don't forget those who are hungry and lonely and poor, because the Christmas-story tells us that they are specially dear to God.
The heart of the Christmas-story is God's generosity. The Baby born in Bethlehem is our window into the heart of God, which burns with love for each one of us. How wonderful if we could all find a little time in the midst of the rush to think about that, and to respond by coming to one of the Christmas services to say "thank you" to God for all he has given us.
But we have to stop and be still, if we are to find God amid all the bustle. "How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given", says the carol – and it's true. God comes into the stress and confusion of human society almost unseen, unheard. Jesus was born in obscurity and poverty, not in a palace, heralded by trumpeters. In Bethlehem God's message of love is whispered, and his caring hand is stretched out particularly to those who had been written off by everyone else. Today God is calling us to continue what Jesus began – to tell of his love and to demonstrate it day by day in our actions.
Have a truly joyful Christmas – and, I hope and pray, a peaceful and blessed one – and may God bless and guide you throughout the coming year. MALCOLM
About the Vicar's Letter
The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.
The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the Vicar's Letter area for these.