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Rector's View - December 2009

Dear friends,

The Christmas tree is an important part of Christmas celebrations in homes up and down the country. It is bright and cheerful and brings joy to people. When, eventually, you negotiate the doors, put it in its tub filled with soil and rocks, there's an agonizing hour or more (depending on experience!) struggling to get the tree to stand upright. Only then can you stand back to congratulate yourself on this great success… until, that is, you realize you didn't buy a specially treated tree and the needles start to decorate the carpet before the decorations are on the tree. Then it's on with the coloured lights… only to discover that they're not working again!

But what's the tree for anyway? According to the well-known story, the Christmas tree goes back to the eighth century, to a missionary from England called St. Boniface. He went to Germany to teach people the Christian faith. There, one December, he encountered a group of people standing beneath an oak tree ready to sacrifice a child to please their 'god'. Boniface immediately rescued the child and chopped the oak tree down. At its foot was a small fir tree. He cut it and gave it to the people as a symbol of life, calling it the tree of the Christ child.

Many years later, in December 1540, Martin Luther cut a fir tree and took it home. He introduced the idea that the evergreen tree can remind us of continuing life through the winter, when most of nature gives the appearance of having died. Luther also started the tradition of placing lights on the tree. The lights illuminate the tree and show that Christ is welcome in our home.

It was not until the mid-nineteenth century that the Christmas tree was introduced into Great Britain by Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert.

The Christmas tree can serve as an illustration of that wonderful truth from St. John's Gospel: "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it."

At Christmas we celebrate God's gift of His Son to scatter the darkness and to give us hope and confidence when facing anxiety, uncertainty or sadness. God lives amongst us, bringing an end to all pain and sorrow, giving to life the fullness and the completeness which is the heritage of the children of God. So, how are we going to respond to God's Christmas present of Jesus?

I look forward to seeing you at one or more of our Christmas services.

Our Carol Services are on Sunday 20th December at 5.00pm at Denston and at 6.00pm at Stradishall and on Christmas Eve at 5.00pm at Stansfield.

Then, later on Christmas Eve, we celebrate the Midnight Mass at Cowlinge, beginning at 11.30pm.

Benefice Services on Christmas morning are at Ousden at 9.00am and at Stradishall at 10.30am.

May God grant to you and to all whom you love, a truly happy and blessed Christmas.


Revd Stephen Abbott

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Last Modified Sunday 04 March 2018