Vicar’s Letter – December 2018
January 2019  Michael Fox

Some of you may remember a TV quiz programme from the sixties called ‘Take Your Pick’, hosted by Michael Miles, during which audience members would shout “Open the box!’ at the contestants. During Advent this year all sorts of community members from around the parish will be opening boxes as St. Paul’s plays host to a community Advent calendar.

The Christmas story will unfold each day as a new box is opened, beginning with the Beavers’ box at the Christmas Fair. All six of the Uniformed groups have contributed boxes, together with Puss Bank School, King’s Juniors, Needlework Guild, Luncheon Club, Youth Club, Toddler Group, Junior Church and many others. This means that a large number of our local community members will have been actively involved in telling the Christmas story, using their imaginations in a co-operative creative act.

The fact that we have to wait day by day to see what others have produced also puts each of us into the position of patient watchers, waiting for each element of the story to come into view. We hope this will re-create some of the magic of Advent calendars remembered from our own childhood, but we also hope that it will encourage you to slow down and resist the Christmas rush in order to rediscover the spiritual practice of waiting. It is easy, in today’s world, to ‘take your pick’ of things which will give you short-term pleasure and in many ways our entire economy and culture is geared towards delivering what we want in ever shorter timescales.

Yet if we lose the habit of patience, which – as the Latin root of the word reminds us – is a form of suffering, we risk falling victim to an ever more powerful need to feel permanently gratified. This, needless to say, amounts to the feeling of never being gratified
at all.

Our current Home Group study of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians reminds us that those who do not walk the ‘way of Christ’ have “lost all sensitivity” (Ephesians 4.19) and indeed we are all in danger of being numbed by the sheer pressure of preparing for Christmas. As Christians, we are waiting for the return of our Lord and during that waiting we are given gifts to equip us, as Paul says, to “build up the Body of Christ, until all of us come […] to
maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” That growth towards true maturity is a slow process. “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.” (Psalm 130.5) Let us keep patiently watching and waiting in hope as we celebrate Christmas with a renewed sense of awe and wonder.

Every blessing for Christmas and the New Year!