I am writing this with my head still full of the amazing Remembrance commemorations that have taken place in towns and villages across the nation on Sunday 11th November. This year, in tribute to the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1, there have been many TV programmes depicting what life was like at that time and I for one have had my eyes opened to many things about that awful war that I was previously unaware of. It’s strange that it takes a significant anniversary to bring to the fore how things really were for all those who lived through those dreadful times and there can barely be a person in the land who hasn’t been aware of this important centenary and its implications.
And now we turn our attention to Christmas. This is a remembering of a very different kind. We dare to call it a celebration because of the significance and wonder of what God did for us in the birth of His son. The story of the baby born in a stable in Bethlehem 2000 years ago was, at that time, a message of hope for people in real situations in the real world and it still is today for us.
In 1965 the producer and director George Stevens made a film called ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’. It originated in 1947 in the US as a radio series of half-hour episodes about the life of Christ, inspired by the Gospels. The screenplay for the film took two years to write and on its release it was hailed as a ‘big, powerful, moving picture...’, was nominated for five Academy Awards but didn’t win an Oscar. If you were to watch the film now I expect you would find it rather dated and ‘slow’, but what a wonderful title! ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’ is so apt for a story about Jesus Christ, Son of God – a story that has endured over many centuries and affected the lives of millions of people, bringing them life in all its fullness.
Despite all the commercial trappings of Christmas it is difficult to ignore what it is really about. The Christ child is all around us - in the singing of our much loved carols, in the lights and in the love that comes bubbling to the surface as we give gifts and cards and make a special effort to be with our loved ones.
Each year we remember God’s gift to us – his son, walking amongst us, bringing us the love of God in all its splendour and beauty. Jesus showed us the very nature of God by his deeds and his teachings. At this time of year love, as the song says, is all around-the love that is of Christ.
As we approach this most special season let us remember the true meaning of Christmas and in remembering the baby born in a stable Bethlehem turn our thoughts to love, for God and for each other.
May you, and all those you love, find peace in the season of Advent and joy this Christmas.
Yours in Christ Jean, Team Vicar