It’s been a bit of an emotional week. Every time I go into church, I see how generous people have been in their donations to the foodbank, in the presents they’ve bought for the care home residents and the shoebox presents for local children. The pews under the tower are laden with shoebox gifts, teddy bears and toys, the desk in my vestry is covered in presents for the care homes and the foodbank table goes quite quickly from needing a re-stock to being stuffed to the gunwales (people have been so generous we have some food to re-stock it again this week, but donations will be welcome again from the weekend). It is humbling and touching to see so much generosity, and salutary and sobering to know how much it is needed. Thank you again if you have been donating.
I have also conducted two funerals this week. One for the late David Buckland, sometime chairman of Kings Langley Probus and member of Kings Langley Cricket and Social Clubs, among other things. Please pray for David, his family and friends. The other was for the late Alan Jackson, who among other interests and achievements (including being a champion windsurfer) was one of our bellringers. His funeral was today at 3.15pm at Chilterns Crematorium. Please pray for Alan, for Sandra his wife and their family, and for our band of bell ringers.
And just like all of you I am feeling upset and annoyed that we won’t be able to see any of our family (except on a screen) this Christmas – we won’t be able to do our usual jaunt up to Rutland. And as much as I do moan a bit (Rachel will tell you!) every year – that it’s a lot of people to fit in, that I don’t like having to move around from house to house, that I would like some more peace and quiet after Christmas(!) – once we are there I really enjoy all our traditions: lunch here, dinner there, games and afternoon buffet somewhere else. I’m going to miss it, and I’m going to miss them. At least we are here and we won’t miss you!
Then in amongst all of this (which is probably enough to be going on with) my aunt died on Monday, aged 55. Well, one of my aunts – I have four. She was called Mesha, and she hadn’t been well. We weren’t close, in fact I haven’t seen her for several years. But it is sad. And a death in the family, even of someone we are not close to, does make us sit up and think. It has certainly made me want to make the most of my relationships with the friends and family I am in touch with. So, at the risk of setting myself up for a fall, there are some New Year’s resolutions coming up along the lines of ‘phone so and so’, ‘message so and so’ and ‘email the other so and so’!
We are on the threshold of Christmas today, the Feast that celebrates the core of Christian faith: that even though we might lose touch with God he loves us so much that he became one of us to re-establish that relationship. It is sometimes said that if we want to see God, we look at the face of Jesus Christ. What is perhaps more important to remember is that if we want to glimpse the face of Jesus Christ, we only have to look at our neighbour – whether family, friend or stranger. Not always an easy thing to do, but in those very human connections we experience something of the divine connection God makes with us in the incarnation, in his birth among us as a human baby. That is the light and hope of Christmas.
Wishing you every blessing this strange Christmas and hope and peace for the New Year.
With my love and prayers for you, and my thanks for all the kindness you show to me and to others,
All Saints Vicarage,
Wednesday 23rd December 2020