Alrewas All Saints PCC

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from the Vicar - December 2018

29/11/2018

‘Presence’ is the Best ‘Present’ of All……

Nativity pic

Having been away on an Extended Study Leave - aka ‘sabbatical’ - the past three months (with huge thanks to my colleagues for making this special opportunity possible), it’s really great to be back with all of you in Alrewas, Fradley and Wychnor!

 In addition to studies and research I did in connection with how we might be able to select and train lay and ordained ministers using local contexts and resources, a significant portion of my sabbatical was the privilege of spending five weeks with my family in the USA whom I hadn’t been able to visit for the past six years, and assisting my 85 year old Mum in relocating from Arizona to California to be closer to my two sisters and the support they can offer her as time goes by. It meant so much to me to have plenty of time and opportunity to talk and share with each other, reminiscing about special events and memories, and simply ‘being together’ for as much time as we could. Having stayed with my Mum in her new flat in California for the month of October, as we said our tearful goodbyes to each other, she said ‘Your presence here with me has been the best gift you could ever give me!’.

 As it happens, my Mum’s birthday is on Christmas Day….her mother conceived but sadly miscarried eight children before my Mum was successfully born, and as an only child her ‘presence’ in my grandparents’ lives was the very best Christmas present they could have ever wanted! And that simple but profound appreciation makes me wonder what will be most important in our Christmas celebrations this year. I trust we will all look forward to giving and receiving gifts, enjoying Christmas parties with yuletide food and drink, and spending special time with family and friends, and I hope these opportunities will bring joy to you – but even more so, I hope that at the heart of your Christmas celebrations you will remember, give thanks for and truly celebrate the birth of God’s own Son Jesus amongst us, our ‘Emmanuel’ (God-with-us), welcoming his unconditional love and his desire to be in relationship with us and journey with us every day of our lives. Although many of the presents we receive this Christmas might get used up, forgotten or discarded shortly thereafter, the amazing ‘presence’ of God in Christ lasts forever, and is certainly the very best Christmas ‘present’ we could ever hope to receive.

 I warmly invite you and your family to unwrap the gift of God’s presence by joining in the special Christmas services at All Saints, St. Stephen’s and St. Leonard’s churches, and most sincerely wish each of you a Christ-filled, joy-filled Christmas and a healthy, happy New Year!

 

                                                                                 With every blessing,  Vicar John

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