Letter form the Manse

Dear Friends,

Christmas is very near and each person will approach the season with a different sense of feelings. But that has always been the case. When we look at the gospel accounts we see that those involved in the Nativity all had different feelings as they approached Bethlehem.

Some people want nothing to do with Christmas. They just can't believe the account of the birth of Jesus. Joseph too was a sceptic. When Mary told him of the visit of the angel and her part in God's plan of salvation he could not believe. Even when visited by the angel he still struggled to believe.

ome people are totally prepared weeks in advance. Their Christmas celebrations run with military precision. But sometimes in their quest for the perfect Christmas they miss the truth of the simple act of love at the heart of the Christmas story. The Magi were prepared for this great event. They had scanned the heavens, read obscure parchments and travelled many miles, but at the last missed the point that the Messiah was not to be born in a king's palace but in a humble stable

or some people Christmas sneaks up on them when they realise that it is just a few days before Christmas Eve. They go into panic mode. The Shepherds in the fields were not thinking about the coming Messiah when they were confronted by the angel with the great news that the Messiah is born. They were terrified, eventually grabbing the nearest present they could, a lamb, and set off to Bethlehem.

inally, there is Mary who does not fully understand what is happening but accepts her situation with a sense of peace. We all can envy those people who can enjoy Christmas without worry or anxiety!

The great miracle of Christmas is that when they all left Bethlehem - Mary, the Shepherds, the Magi and Joseph - each person was changed in some way. So, whether we are sceptical or accepting, a Christmas control freak or a last minute shopper, may we too be changed by our Christmas experience this year.

Christmas blessings to you,

Alan.
Rev Dr Alan Smithson