The Vicar's Letter (this letter written by Reverend Stephen Burge) has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002
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Vicar's Letter

December 2022

Reverend Stephen Burge, Associate Priest of the Church of St Mary The Virgin, Eaton Bray with Edlesborough.

So Christmas is coming! This year has certainly been a rather odd one. Having got through the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, I think most of us were hoping for less stressful times; but we have seen the war in Ukraine, difficult rises in the cost of living, governmental instability, as well as the passing of our much-loved Queen. It has been a testing year for many, and I hope and pray for better times ahead. As a church we continue to support our local foodbank, to pray for all those in Ukraine and to pray for those struggling with tight finances. To help, a number of places in our villages are offering spaces for warm hubs during the day - please do look at local information for more about these.

It is something of a comfort to me to remember that Jesus was born into a world that was equally stressful. Politically, the region of the Holy Land had been conquered by the Romans and the Jewish people had been subjugated, ruled by a weak vassal state that paid tributes to the Roman occupiers. Socially, the influence of Greek culture was growing among those living in the Holy Land, which some saw a threat to Jewish identity. And religiously, within the Jewish community there were tensions between different factions, each seeking to win over the local Jewish population to their way of doing things. So, when Jesus was born in that stable all those years ago, tensions were high, and there was likely to be a sense of deep unease and anxiety. However, there was also a great sense of hope for the coming of the Messiah, who would come and free the Jewish people from their oppressors and usher in a new era of peace and prosperity.

As it says in the prophecy of Isaiah, "For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isa 9:6).

Jesus is the Prince of Peace born into a world that was full of anxiety and he brought calm. He gives us hope for a better world. The peace which Jesus brings is something that Jesus continues to share with us. Jesus wants us to feel safe and secure in the knowledge of his unending love for us, and he is with us and shares with us all our fears, our anxieties, as well as all our joys and celebrations. The problem for us is that when we are worried or afraid it can sometimes seem hard to find and feel the peace and love that Jesus has for us. At times we need to stop what is that we are doing to allow ourselves the time to find Jesus and the calm that he brings - by sitting silently, through prayer and with patience.

This year Churches Together have organized an Advent Trail around the village, with shops, houses and churches putting up Christmas carol themed displays. Each display will also show a small picture of the baby Jesus - do take the time to try and find the baby Jesus in each display! I hope that that you are able to take part and get a chance to wander through our beautiful villages and find the baby Jesus, not just in the displays on show in the windows, but in your own lives too. I pray that at this time of Advent, and especially when Christmas eventually comes, you may all be able to feel the love of the Prince of Peace.

I wish you all a happy and holy Christmas, filled with the joy of the Christ-child.

Rev'd Stephen Burge

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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 area for these.