Rev Jo’s Letter – Dec 2021

We read that the shortage of driver manpower means there will be a national shortage of fresh turkeys this year.

Delivery drivers have abandoned their loads of cholesterol-laden Christmas fare to deliver Amazon packages. If you didn’t order your Harry Potter merchandise by July there is no hope whatsoever of getting it for Christmas. The national shortage of postal delivery operatives (the ones we used to call postmen before they became a rarity and mail stacked up at the sorting office) means your Christmas cards might as well go straight into recycling. Christmas just won’t be the same despite the cheerful assurances to the contrary of our Prime Minister. Apparently.

I think Christmas will actually be a whole lot better this year because we can once again join in the singing at our Carol Ser-vices, there will be Christingles at the school at the end of term and in church on Christmas Eve, and there will be services on Christmas Day (See page 16 for date and times ) enabling you to put the (unavailable) turkey in the oven before you come, baste it as you return and serve it in ample time for the Queen’s Speech.

So many people have told me how they have missed singing since Covid began, so do come and join in as we sing the old favourites.

Many, like me, bemoan the secularisation of Christmas – decorations on display in the shops in late September, festive fare in the super-markets from October, tinny re-worked carols serenading us from November as we are urged to spend, spend, spend. And that’s even before Advent has begun.

But maybe we should remember that the church, as it so often did, adapted an ancient pagan festival to its own purposes when it began to celebrate the Nativity of Christ. In pre-Christian Europe people kept the period from the Winter Solstice to the New Year as a festival. They decorated an evergreen tree as a symbol of Life in the dead of winter, calling it Yggsdrasil, the tree of life, with its roots in the underworld. Mistletoe was a fertility symbol for the Druids, as it grew green on the sacred oak in winter.

Romans kept a public holiday around December 25th to observe the winter solstice and pray for the return of the sun. Both forms of pagan worship adapted very nicely into the Christmas celebrations of the early church. But that doesn’t in any way demean our Christian Celebrations because we too long for the light, as the collect for Advent Sunday reminds us:

Almighty God,

Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and The dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

A very happy Christmas to you all.