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Great Casterton Parish Council

Serving the people of Great Casterton

Clerk: Derek Patience
29 Priory Gardens, Stamford
PE9 2EG

Tel: 01780 753066

Revd Jo's December Newsletter

Like most clergy, I regularly bemoan the fact that Advent has virtually disappeared, swallowed up in the great consumer festival of Christmas. A former teaching colleague of mine would mutter darkly as December came round 'Oh no. More compulsory fun …'

Far from observing the four Sundays of Advent as a time of waiting and preparation for Christ's birth, we seem to bury them in Carol Services, Christingles, Crib Services and the like. The church offers us great riches of hymnody and liturgy, but we have so little opportunity to enjoy them. Some clergy insist that no carol service or Christingle takes place until after Christmas, but I fear the weight of popular opinion goes against them, and while I agree with them liturgically, I think I should be soundly taken to task if I were to suggest we followed this practice.

If I'm honest, I have to say that I'm extremely glad when Christmas is over; not just because of the amount of preparation and organisation, but because I feel increasingly that the church struggles against secularism to such a degree. I was particularly sad to see the latest advertisement for Curry's in which a mother tells her three miserable-looking children that they are going to spend Christmas singing carols and having conversations – then reveals that it's a joke; they are going to have an enormous television set installed 'because that's what Christmas is all about.'

Actually Christmas is about the Incarnation—God becoming human. It is about the power of love embodied in a tiny child, which is stronger than the might of rulers and princes and it is about the peace which only Christ can bring. That is what we should be telling the world, and our various Christmas services do exactly that.

So having had my annual moan, I am going to enjoy Advent with its emphasis on the coming of Christ's Kingdom and its wonderful sense of expectation. And even though the great Advent hymns won't feature as much as I would like in our churches, I shall read their stirring words as I read the daily office.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a king,
Born to reign in us for ever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring:
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone,
By Thy all-sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Details of Christmas services appear elsewhere. My son James has nobly offered to cover quite a few of them, for which I am very grateful. I hope that many of you will join us to celebrate Christ's birth; you will be made very welcome.

A blessed Advent and Christmas to you all.

Jo