Last month I wrote about the season of Advent which began on November 28th. This year for the first time the Churches Together group has organised an Advent Trail round the villages of Eaton Bray and Edlesborough. It is like a giant Advent calendar with a different picture appearing each day from 1st December up to Christmas Day. Further on in this Focus magazine is a map explaining where you can find the pictures. They will be displayed in local businesses, homes and places of worship. The pictures will remain in place until Monday 3rd January 2022 giving you the opportunity to walk off your Christmas feasting and follow the trail to view the pictures.
People from the local churches will be designing the pictures themselves and they will relate to different aspects of the Christmas story as told in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Why not see if you can spot where they appear in your Bible? Or if you don't have a Bible you can look up the stories online at www.biblegateway.com. The Christmas nativity stories are found in Matthew chapter 1 verses 18 to 25 and chapter 2 verses 1 to 15. In Luke's gospel the Christmas story is told in chapter 1 verse 26 through to chapter 2 verse 20. Do any of the pictures surprise you? Is there anything you expected to be there which is missing?
The Advent calendar was first used in Germany by Lutherans in the nineteenth century. The origins of the Christmas tree also come from Germany, introduced by an Englishman from Devon. Winfrith was born in Crediton in Devon in the eight century. He later became known as Boniface and went to Germany to teach the people there about the Christian faith. One December, Boniface found a group of people standing beneath on oak tree. There were preparing to sacrifice a child to their gods believing that it would bring them good fortune. Boniface rescued the child and had the oak tree chopped down. As the oak tree fell, a small fir tree was revealed growing in its place.
Boniface adopted the fir tree as an emblem of the new faith he had brought to Germany. The tree's evergreen leaves represented eternal life which was found by believing in Jesus the Son of God. Boniface gave the fir tree the name 'Tree of the Christ-child'.
In the sixteenth century another German, Martin Luther, was walking one night under a clear night sky lit by hundreds of stars. The sight moved him so much that he returned home with a fir tree, and fixed candles on its branches to represent Jesus the light of the world. The Christmas tree became part of celebrations in Germany. It wasn't until 1841 that the Christmas tree came to the United Kingdom. It was introduced by Queen Victoria's German husband Prince Albert. It soon became fashionable to have a Christmas tree as part of the festivities. Candles were used to represent Jesus the light of the world. These are the origins of our fairy lights. A star was added at the top of the tree. This was a reminder of the star which guided the wise men to find Jesus with his parents, Mary and Joseph. The Christmas tree symbolises the light and life of the Christ child coming into our midst to bring life and hope.
Wishing you every blessing this Christmas
Joy (Vicar of Eaton Bray with Edlesborough)
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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.