December in the Year of our Lord Jesus Christ 2012

PASTORAL LETTER                              DECEMBER 2012

Advent is the beginning of the Church’s year – the time when we look back and remember the people who prepared for the coming of the Messiah. Every Sunday we light a new candle on the Advent Wreath. On Advent Sunday we remember the Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the people at the very beginning of the story of faith.

Advent 2 is the turn of the Prophets who proclaimed the Messiah and his coming Kingdom of peace and justice whilst having some deservedly harsh things to say about the absence of those qualities from their own societies. Advent 3 is Gaudete Sunday, a time of respite from the rigours of Advent so we have rose vestments and a rose candle on the Advent wreath and, somewhat incongruously perhaps, commemorate John the Baptist, or John the Forerunner as he is sometimes known. The fourth candle, lit the Sunday before Christmas commemorates the Blessed Virgin Mary and finally on Christmas morning we light the white candle in the middle of the ring to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

It’s probably worth taking time to thing about the relationship between Jesus and the Old Testament. Jesus and, therefore, Christianity are unthinkable without it but much of the Old Testament seems to be in direct variation with the values Jesus taught. What is going on? One answer has been to say that the religion of the Old Testament was cruel and nasty and Jesus came to replace it with something more palatable but that doesn’t seem to have been Jesus’ understanding of himself or the New Testament’s understanding of Jesus. The Early Church disagreed with other Jews about the significance of Jesus but not about the positive significance of previous Judaism. Hopefully we can take some time to explore that this Advent – further details will be in the Grapevine when I have them!

This letter will be the last I write as Curate in the Plurality as we will be moving to Woodingdean in the New Year to look after another Church of the Holy Cross there. I hope that I have not tried your patience unduly in the five years we have been here and a very big thank you to all those who have offered your help and support. All three churches, St. Saviours the Convent and any candidates for the post of Rector, will remain very much in my prayers as you wait for a new chapter in the history of the Plurality to begin. Please give whoever is appointed all your love and support and remember that when changes are made, as they doubtless will, that the choices are not “change or not change” they are “growth or decline”. In the short term Susanna will remain at Holy Cross School, probably until the end of the current academic year and we are not going to be that far away so I dare say we will bump into one another from time to time. I am very much looking forward to my new appointment but there will definitely be a part of me that misses being your curate.

With best wishes for a Happy and Holy Advent and Christmas,

Stephen

p.s. Please support the Holy Cross School Christmas Fair on Saturday 7th   December from 3.00 –4.45pm. Thanks