A message from the Rev’d Amanda Collinson

Posted by Admin on Saturday, 23rd November 2013, 17:39

Amanda Collinson

Priest-in-Charge

St John the Baptist Church

Northwood.

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Tel: 01983 294913

Email: revamandacollinson@virginmedia.com

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HELLO THERE!

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..Tis the season to be jolly..♪ …

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Whether we can believe it, like it or not, the Christmas period is upon us and all the craziness that comes with it …  For the church we first go through the season of Advent which is more reflective than celebratory.  Christians are asked to go through a period of expectant waiting and preparation before the time of celebration as it serves a reminder, both of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah, as well as the waiting of Christians now for the Second Coming of Christ – basically it is a season of looking forward and waiting for something greater.  And I suppose that would be a good summary to describe the feelings of our children – looking forward to Christmas day and waiting for all the presents and goodies that it beholds!  But what does Christmas mean to you?  Is it going to be a frantic family time or a time of peace?  For me it will be a Christmas when my eldest is now aware of what it is and all the fun it brings whilst my youngest will still be amazed at the lights, have no idea what is going on and will probably play with the cardboard box instead of the toy!!
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But in reality Christmas does not always mean a time of joy and celebration. I am blessed and honoured to know clergy around the world and am only too aware of the very different challenges that this season brings them.  I have a dear friend who is a Bishop in Pakistan and he has told me that he has had to have a discussion with the Head of the Taliban in his area to ask for his permission to carry out their Christmas Day procession.  This man is known to have killed a number of the locals and yet my friend has gone to his house, unarmed, and requested something for his church that potentially could put his life in danger!  Similarly there is religious fighting between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria and with that and the political corruption as well as poverty and desperate need they too will not be facing Christmas with smiles, joy, full fridges and plenty of presents. I pray every day for the Ministers and Christians abroad whose daily life is a struggle and where practising their faith is a dangerous activity.
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However you do not have to go abroad to find people in poverty, stricken with illness or being persecuted and abused – unfortunately all these can be found in our country and indeed in our neighbourhoods.  Living in a developed and wealthy country does not automatically protect you from infection, difficulties or harm: and with that Christmas does not always bring joy, but instead further sadness, isolation or danger.
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So for those of us who are, on reflection, happy, healthy and secure what should we concentrate on this Christmas?  The Gospels invite us to make a difference in the world. How can this be done? We can make a difference with small things we do in the way we use our time; by the way we use our skills and of course, by the way we use our money. The Archdeacon of the Isle of Wight, the Venerable Peter Sutton, came to our churches to preach a few weeks ago and spoke about a hero of his – the late Anglican priest Chad Varah who founded the Samaritans. In 1935, as curate in Lincoln he had to bury, in un-consecrated ground, because that’s what the church did in those days, a 13 year old girl who starting her periods and having no idea what that meant, had committed suicide because she thought she had contracted some shameful disease.  Standing over her grave Chad Varah said, “Little Girl, I never knew you, but you have changed my life.” and the Samaritans was born and since then has changed and saved the lives of many, many people.  Archdeacon Peter challenged the congregations to think about what they were doing to serve the church and community and how they could make a difference.  And, in a slightly different way, I am now challenging all you readers out there …
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How can you make a  difference in our villages? What can you give or how can you help or support our community?  Could you do some volunteering, help a group in your area or just look in on some elderly neighbours?  Reflecting on the difference Reverend Chad has made to our nation through the work of the Samaritans I wonder whether in 80 years’ time what we do now will be celebrated as we commend the work of the Samaritans – perhaps not on such a grand scale as that, but I hope and pray that the future residents of Northwood and readers of this magazine look back and thank the previous generations, us, for what we did in our local community, how we generously gave our time, talents and resources to make a difference in our area – our homes, our churches and our communities.
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So as you start your own Christmas preparations, add on your list one extra thing to do – to try and do something good for someone or something in our community.  I pray this Yuletide is a good one for you:  I hope the cards get sent on time, the turkey fits into the oven, the cat doesn’t attack the tree too many times etc etc….  In sum I hope it is whatever you wish for – be it a time for partying or a time of rest.  And most importantly, just as a little baby did over 2000 years ago, I hope you make a lasting difference to something or someone this year.
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Wishing you all a peaceful and blessed Christmas!
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Rev’d Amanda Collinson.

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