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Dear Friends

Change is Coming!

There were shepherds in the fields watching over their flocks, when suddenly an angel appears, followed by the heavenly host proclaiming ‘good news to all’ about the birth of a baby. The shepherds travel to Bethlehem and find Mary and Joseph in a stable, and the baby lying in a manger, being kept warm by the straw, and surrounded by animals.

How many times have you heard that story? How many times have you seen it portrayed on Christmas cards or on the TV, although it seems less and less these days? It’s a wonderful image isn’t it, full of love; you can almost feel the warmth of the stable and the straw, and the swaddling bands in which the baby is wrapped?

Christmas can be like that for us. Full of warmth, full of wonderful family memories, full of images we treasure and hold dear, that we wrap around ourselves every year. But it can also be a time when we feel things more keenly; the absence of loved ones, financial hardship, or broken relationships. We cannot ignore that for some, Christmas can be a lonely, anxious, cold or unhappy time.

But maybe we can still find comfort in the Christmas story. For it is a story of hope. It brings us back to our childhood as we gaze upon the baby in the manger, every Christmas, year after year after year. Christmas is, after all, traditional isn’t it? I don't know about you, but I don’t ever want it to change!

I don't ever want to stop hearing the story about the shepherds and the angels, or seeing the image of the baby lying in the manger. Christmas is nostalgic.

But then, somewhere in the distance I hear the sound of a small tinkling bell, and it’s the bell of irony! That on the very night that the little baby was born, when we so much want nothing to ever change, we are in fact celebrating the greatest moment of change in human history. For that little baby is Jesus Christ. We are celebrating ‘the moment’ when God becomes incarnate, and enters into our history and nothing is ever the same again. Immanuel, ‘God with us’.

Incarnation means change, it means God coming into our space, into our time, and into our lives. Coming into our comfort zones and shaking things up, causing them to be re-created in a new way, and challenging us to confront this change, and to be a part of God’s plan for the world around us. How ironic then, that just when we want absolutely nothing to change we are, in fact, celebrating the greatest change ever!

Change is not something that we should fear. Change is part of the natural evolution and cycle of life. It is part of the nature of our lives, our families, our places of work, and our churches. Christmas is a constant celebration, year after year, but no year is ever the same, and our lives never remain the same. Each year we are a little older, and (hopefully) a little wiser, but we are still engaged with our God, the God of history, in making things happen. We are all part of the Christmas story!

Next year will be another year full of change; perhaps we will have a new minister among us here in the CURC? Whichever way, it will be a chance for each one of us to step out into our own incarnation, to pick up the gifts God has given us and discern what he is calling us to do.

So, as you prepare for Christmas and 2018, just pause for a moment, welcome those winds of change into your life, and listen for the sound of angelic voices drifting through a cold starry night, where everything is once again possible...because a very special baby has come to live among us, and everything is now possible, and nothing will ever be the same again.

May God’s peace and blessing be with you.

Revd Gary.

walking nativity

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