Thought for the Month (December 2007)

Spot the difference

Another Christmas on its way! The signs are all there. First week in October, and the Charity Christmas-card shop opened for business in the Tunbridge Wells Church basement. Second week in October, and our local department store cleared its windows ready for their Christmas display. First week in November, and I saw my first full-length Christmas shopping advert on the television. Here we go again!

Christmas seems to come earlier every year, but what difference does it make? On a world scale, not that much it would seem. As the well-known Christmas carol correctly puts it 'Beneath the angel strain has rolled two thousand years of wrong'. There will be no 'truce in the trenches' anywhere this Christmas. And for many out there, Christmas has become the loneliest time and most miserable of the year.

So, spot the difference! Not in the world out there, but in the heart of each and every one of us. As we run through the familiarity of Christmas, the shopping and the glitter, the present giving and the nativity scenes, will the knowledge of the amazing incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ in human form make any difference to each of us? Deep down in our hearts where it really matters? That 'God was man in Palestine, and lives again in Bread and Wine'. The power, the redemption, and the glory!

May I wish you all a happy and a peaceful Christmas, and in all the festivities surrounding this Christmastide, may we understand more of God’s amazing gift to us, and seek to pass his good news on to others.

Bob Webb

A Christmas Letter from the moderator to the churches of the southern synod.

Dear Friends,

Christmas is something we celebrate. And there is something to celebrate! At Ordinations, Ministers are asked 'Do you believe that Jesus Christ, who was born of the gift of God's very self to the world? Those words move me deeply every time I put them to an Ordinand.

The way we celebrate Christmas is hotly debated. Too secular? Too commercial? Certainly it can feel as if Christmas is done to us in an unhelpful way, and we can easily resent it, especially those of us who think we know the real reason for the season.

Yet Christmas is something that is done to us, and for us...and it's something we should do to and for each other. It's done to us in that the birth of Jesus is a vital part of the jig-saw of God's loving purposes. The infant in Bethlehem is pivotal to God's gracious 'it's-not-up-to-you' dealing with us.

Jesus is God being done to us, and our celebrating of that is given its authenticity as we do Christmas to one another. The Christmas day meal at Church for people who would otherwise be on their own, the ‘six geese a-laying' for a remote village in Africa, the Charity Christmas cards, the extra cheque for Cancer research; these are all ways - and there are millions of others - of doing Christmas to each other. And each of them proves that love came down at Christmas.

The Synod officers and the Synod staff, together with Bethan and Jess join me in wishing you a Christmas marked by the joy of real giving and receiving.

Yours Sincerely,

Nigel Uden.

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church