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St Leonard's Church

Sherfield-on-Loddon, Hampshire

Pastoral Letter

Dear Friends

I considered not reflecting on anything to do with Covid this December, but as we approach Christmas and the prospect of still being in lockdown, it is difficult to avoid. I must say that since everything is so fluid now I have stopped getting stressed about minute to minute changes and have reached a point of simply saying, what will be will be. Particularly at Christmas time, when we look forward to gathering with family, especially children and grandchildren, it could be really hard to think of being isolated or having to gather in very small bubbles. It is easy to be upset and feel that we are having something taken away from us, stolen even. The simple thing is, however, that we just can’t let ourselves be subject to those kinds of stresses, particularly as we are having to focus on protecting ourselves and others. Though it may not be easy it will be important for us to let go and allow what happens to emerge. This is nothing to do with being

defeatist, it is rather a sense of realism that will enable us to be at peace in whatever happens. Then, if things do suddenly change, it will be a joyous bonus.

I am aware that there are those whose mental health is suffering during this time, so not everyone will be immediately able to make this shift in thinking. Maybe if you know someone who would appreciate online or telephone contact during this time you could reach out to them.

Of course, whilst Christmas is a wonderful family time it is mainly about the hope that God brought to this earth through the birth of a tiny baby over 2,000 years ago. Though it wasn’t called Christmas then, it was the first Christmas and a very unusual event. Many people across the world have Christmases that are not ordinary or straight forward, especially those who are persecuted, enslaved, homeless or bereaved.

In many ways an unusual Christmas can help us identify with those people and be grateful for what we do have. The

message of Christmas is one of hope and it is more relevant this year than in any other year. Jesus came as a

mender of brokenness and to bring us the assurance that in every circumstance he is with us. The prophet Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse (an ancestor of Jesus), will spring up, one who will rule over the nations, and nations will hope in him.” The hope that Jesus brings this Christmas and always is not the kind of hope that is just wishful thinking. It is the firm hope that we have right nowbecause Jesus ushered in God’s Kingdom on earth and made a way into a relationship with God through his death and resurrection. By faith in him we are drawn into his Kingdom now and in eternity. As

Romans 15:13 says “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”.

 

May God bless your Christmas this year in whatever form it takes. Do let us know if you need us to pray for you or you need help.

Stephen  [email protected]