A message from the Rev’d Amanda Collinson

Posted by Admin on Saturday, 25th November 2017, 23:27

Amanda Collinson

Priest-in-Charge

St John the Baptist Church

Northwood.

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Tel: 01983 294913

Email: amandacollinson01@gmail.com

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Hello there!

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Last month I was given some very amusing ‘Church Bulletin bloomers’ by a dear parishioner and despite reading or hearing them many, many times I once again laughed out loud as I read them. I remembered this as we come into December which for many of us is all about a story we have all heard many, many times and yet I, and many parents and grandparents, will once again get great joy and pleasure in hearing and seeing the children retell the story of the first Christmas through their wonderful Nativity plays and fantastic Carol concerts.
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We all know the story, we all know the baby, we all know what happened…. or so we think!  Can I just throw in the fact that a donkey was never mentioned anywhere, neither were the actual number of kings stated, the stable was probably a cave and all the visitors did not turn up in a 24-hr period: thank goodness, I can hear all Mums saying!  But putting those details aside (especially as none of them would enhance a Nativity play but just make it even harder to do) pretty much everyone knows the story around the birth of Jesus and yet, allegedly, so few people believe in Him or God in general – a YouGov survey a few years ago showed that overall a third (33%) of British adults do not believe in God or a greater spiritual power of any kind which is roughly the same number as who do believe (32%).  Splitting it into age groups the figures are more stark – only 25% of 18-24 year olds believe in a God, whereas the over-60s it was 41%.
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So, what do you believe in? What your parents say or said? What your spouse says?  What your teachers or employers say or said? What the newspapers or TV say?  We are struggling here aren’t we – there are few things that we can really trust, note I didn’t bother including politicians!!! And how many of you have trusted implicitly or believed something for years and then someone came forward and gave you some evidence to contradict your opinion or belief.  So, what can we trust? Well we can trust our feelings and beliefs – because they are your own, and you would be rather foolish to lie to yourself.
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So, what do I believe? I believe that the shops start the build up to Christmas way too early, I believe I will be still wrapping presents on Christmas Eve, I believe I will probably need a tissue when I see my boys in their Christmas shows this year, I believe in true love, I believe I am doing the job I am meant to be doing, I believe in God.  You may smile at some of these statements, but do you know what, they took me a while to think about.  And I think they took me time because we are continually being told what we should think, what we should do and to some extent what we should believe….so much so that we have forgotten where we actually stand with some topics or what we truly believe.
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Do you have to believe in God to come to church? No, no and simply no….. I will wonderfully welcome a huge number of people through the church doors this month for various events and services who don’t normally come to church.  Some apologise for not being more regular, some happily admit they haven’t been in church since last Christmas.  Whatever the reason I am just delighted that they are there – to wave at their child dressed up in a nativity outfit, to sing their favourite carol out loud or to cry and light a candle for a loved one. Because Christmas is all about presence, no NOT PRESENTS, presence!
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I have the privilege to be a presence for those who are grieving and ill, a presence for those who are super-excited, a presence for the lost and lonely, a presence for families gathering together.  For centuries the church has always had a presence in our country and I am proud to be that current presence in our community at this time for weddings, baptisms and funerals but it is particularly important at Christmas to be there for EVERYONE, and I really mean that.
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I have had some wonderful conversations this year with people who defiantly do not believe in a God as well as those who are very confused about the whole thing.  It was an honour and a privilege to speak to all of them. Because it is a unique opportunity – I mean how many vegetarians go and chat to a butcher and tell them that they don’t eat meat or non-swimmers chat to lifeguards about their fear or hatred of water!
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All my conversations are opportunities and so are yours – opportunities to show you are prepared to listen to different opinions, opportunities to show you care, opportunities to love your neighbour whoever they are and whatever they think and do. Surely that is what Christmas is all about?  This month, spread the Christmas cheer and use your opportunities in the best possible way – don’t leave it to the Christmas Adverts, let’s all do our bit, share peace and love to all and make our community twinkle that little bit brighter this year!
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Wishing you a blessed and peaceful Christmas!

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Rev’d Amanda.

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