Christmas 2001

before anyone else and is the last to shed its covering. The photograph on the right is from a previous year. It looks romantic, but here in the UK snow is generally a nuisance as we are never ready to cope with it when it arrives! So most of us here are not enamoured by a 'White Christmas'. Probably Charles Dickens and Victorian romanticism is responsible for this ideal of Christmas.
The actual Christian feast of Christmas goes back to the fifth century. I am not sure that anyone knows how it began in those far off days. Probably because the New Testament sites of Jesus' life and ministry were part of a booming trade by then.
So we often ask what is this season all about, apart from the carols and the jollifications? We can rejoice at the birth of a man who lived and spoke as a son of peace and whose birth, life death and resurrection has changed the course of history. So besides the crib and the birth stories in this Christian celebration we give thanks for the attributes of the grown man so well summarised in Isaiah as 'prince of peace.' He speaks to our condition today, as he has always done, when the world is fractured with violence and the innocent suffer so terribly. He calls us to be followers with him, to spread the good news of the gospel of peace which he brought. He still reigns despite the evil at large in the world and ultimately the kingdom of his Father will be perfectly established. Following with him begins in worship, giving praise to the Father in the Spirit and then, day by day, to be sent out to be his witnesses where we live and work. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!"


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The last leaves have dropped off the willow tree and that means we have begun to enter the winter season. The willow starts putting out its leaves


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