The December Pastoral Letter from the Rector
My dear friends,
Think of someone locally, a friend or neighbour, who is a special person. They may be the ‘salt of the earth’; never complaining, always ready to help, someone we can rely on, someone who lifts us when we are down. They are going to have a major birthday and decide to throw a celebration for all their friends and family. All the guests duly arrive for this great celebration and they completely ignore the one whose celebration it is - the guest of honour. It’s unthinkable isn’t it? And yet more and more this is what happens every year at Christmas time.
We may all be delighted to spend time with family and friends, to exchange costly gifts, to indulge and over-indulge in food and drink, but it is easy to forget and ignore, why we are celebrating. We have reached the point where in many communities, in this so called, Christian country, the term Christ-mass has been substituted for ‘winter festival’ or Seasons Greetings, lest someone might be offended! Political correctness spends so much time telling perfectly tolerant people that they might be offended, that these people begin to think they ought to be.
And what of us? Do we remember to celebrate the true spirit of Christmas? In the secular world we are given about four months to prepare! Christmas begins in the shops at the end of the summer months. In Advent the Church far more sensibly gives us four weeks to prepare. (And that doesn’t mean our present list, or order the turkey and write the cards.) Advent asks us to think carefully about what happened some 2,000 years ago. We are asked to loose ourselves in the nativity story: to see and experience it through the eyes of those who were part of it. Try to imagine what it was like for a young girl - a virgin - to be told she was carrying a baby and, not only that, but the baby was to be the Son of God. How would you have reacted? Would you have been ready to proclaim, ‘Let what you have said be done unto me’? We are told very little about Mary. Everything we can gleam from the gospels points to her humility, trust and complete acceptance of God’s will. She realised that she had been given the greatest human being, who was Christ the Lord.
It is not only the common attitude to Christmas which is so sad. God our creator has given us everything we have and one of the greatest gifts is the ability to feel love in all its many forms, love that finds it pinnacle response in the commitment of individuals to each other. Marriage is given by God as the ideal for entering into the great miracle of life itself. For all our God given genius, we can build nothing as complex and beautiful as another human being. This is the product of God’s immense love for us. This is God’s present to us. The miracle of life. And at Christmas we remember that the greatest gift was God’s own Son - given in love, who gave his life in love for us, given that we might find our eternal home in God’s heart.
What have we to give in return? That must be worth dwelling upon during Advent and as we approach a symbol of new beginnings for us all, the New Year.
May I take this opportunity on behalf of myself, my family and my colleagues to wish you all a very happy and holy Christmas, and a New Year filled with love.
Your friend and Rector
Christingle Services - raising money for the work of the Children’s Society.
Little Horsted and Isfield celebrate together in St. Michael and All Angels, Little Horsted at 11.00 a.m. on Sunday 7th December
Holy Cross celebrate at 11.00 a.m. on 14th December
Lessons and Carol services:
St. Margaret's Isfield 6.00 p.m. 14th December
St. Michael's Little Horsted 11.00 a.m. 21st December
Holy Cross 6.30 p.m. 21st December
The Crib Service is at 4.00 p.m. on Christmas Eve in Holy Cross, this years service is called 'The Little Angel'.
What is it that makes Christmas night so very special? This is the question that the little angel wanted answering. So come and journey with her, discovering all the things that make Christmas so special—and the reason Christmas night is so very, very special. This is a wonderful way for both children and adults alike to begin their celebration of Christmas.
Midnight Mass Christmas Eve December 24th
Little Horsted and Isfield join together at St. Michael's Little Horsted at 10.30 p.m.
Holy Cross 11.30 p.m.
8.00 a.m. Holy Communion according the Book of Common Prayer
10.00 a.m. Sung Eucharist for Christmas with carols
St. Margaret's Isfield
10.00 a.m. Holy Communion for Christmas with carols
St. Michael's Little Horsted
10.00 a.m. Family Communion with Carols
You would be very welcome at any or all of our Christmas worship
The Feast of the Epiphany (the coming of the magi to Jesus)
The feast will be celebrated with a sung Eucharist at 7.30 p.m. on Tuesday 6th January 2015 This will be The Rev'd June Terry's final service within the plurality before she retires. It will be followed by a reception and presentation. If you would like to contribute to her leaving gift then please put money in a clearly marked envelope and give it to your respective church warden who will pass it to Paul Cuerden the treasurer at Holy Cross.
CHURCH URBAN FUND Canon Paul Hackwood Executive Chair
As I travel around the country I am struck by the extent to which so many people are suffering in financial hardship, but also heartened by the great work that churches are already doing with these people, walking alongside them and building transformative relationships.
You will be aware of the many people in your own parish trapped in the web of poverty, earning below the living wage or unemployed. Many of them parents who will easily fall prey to the payday loan sharks as they struggle to give their children a treat for Christmas. This is as much a problem in rural communities as it is in the inner cities.
Church Urban Fundis working with Archbishop Justin’s task group to build support for more church and community-based financial services. We know how important it is to create a more financially inclusive society, where all people have access to appropriate financial services to help people manage their money effectively.With Advent almost upon us, there is time to reflect together on how congregations could respond to the issues of poverty on our doorstep. Church groups are not just involved with food banks but also using the skills of the congregation to help in community banks, credit unions and debt advice centres.
It is Christmas time when people feel the most financial pressure. OurAdvent Calendar helps churches to engage with these issues with daily reflections, video stories and prayer. Register now on line to receive the free Advent calendar and also explore our other Advent Resources.
With every blessing,