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Vicar's Messages

December 2018

Dear friends,

Love Came Down at Christmas is a poem, and carol that was written by Christina Rossetti. At Christmas through the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, somehow, we are reminded that love is not just for Christmas.

Through Christ, at Christmas, we are reminded that love is not reserved for a romantic relationship or family members or the county cricket team; it is not just the theme of popular songs and films. It is more than a feeling at Christmas, or any other time. It is a state of being. It involves work and imagination. It is a choice and a decision. It is an intelligent care, attention and goodwill to life; an alignment of consciousness that takes life seriously. It is an indiscriminate kindness, it is the desire to understand; to know and be known, it is empathy and forgiveness, it is reverence for all living things, it is generosity of body and spirit, it is preparedness to suffer for the wellbeing of the stranger, the capacity to bear with the difference of others. It is, long suffering and merciful. It is deeply joyful. It is forgiving. It is the offering of one’s life into the world. It is a mystery. This love is increasingly difficult in the busyness of modern life. Love fails at speed and flourishes in gentleness. The work of mature love in the world is vast and often unrecognised, in spite of the fact that we are all beneficiaries of love’s unseen labours.

I wonder, could it be that the love we deeply long for at Christmas, the love we have never known with any certainty, is not so much about the adoration of a loved one, but rather the love and care on earth that might exist between us all: the courageous love for each other and the environment, for beauty and nature, for peace and innocence… love, above and beyond power and money.

The love and grace that make the world more welcoming, beautiful and livable. The love that makes us all less lonely.

The strange love that once moved war weary young soldiers to disobey their orders, lay down their guns and share Christmas peace in the terrible no-man’s land between their opposing trenches of hatred.

The Love that came down at Christmas. Love, Peace and Joy to you all this Christmas.

Philip