A message from the Chaplain - December 2021

Dear friends, beste vrienden,

Confession: I don’t actually like mince pies. But I do like eating mince pies with YOU. And what I like best about mince pies is everything that leads up to that moment…

It starts with planning the Advent and Christmas liturgies (often during the summer), choosing a theme for the Carol Service, and making creative plans with our ministry team.

At the beginning of October, the choir starts ‘dusting off’ some of our favourite, old Christmas carols and learning new pieces as well.

The Advent wreath appears bringing beauty and light to our worship. Each week more decorations appear, preparing the church for Christmas and mirroring how we prepare our hearts for Christ’s arrival in our lives.

The children & youth get involved, planning a special song or skit for the Carol Service.

The Hospitality team make preparations to fills our hearts and bellies with warm pies and glühwein, anticipating the family, friends and visitors who will join us for this special time of year.

The Carol service itself is complex. A lot of people are involved. Something always goes ‘wrong’ but we usually find a way to laugh about it afterwards. It also means that the services on Christmas Eve (8:00pm) and Christmas Day (11:00am) focus purely on the joy of Jesus’ birth.

Yes, I’m grateful that we are able to hold services this year, but I’m disappointed that we won’t experience the whole process leading up to Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mad at the coronavirus. It’s just doing what a virus always does, which doesn’t go together well with humans. I’m also not mad at the government or anyone else. But I am a bit sad.

I’m sad because it’s been another difficult year for many individuals and families. I’m sad because many of us won’t get to see each other this holy season or get to share our joy with one another (again!).

But mostly, I’m sad because all our preparations and planning a just a small reminder of the preparations and plans that God made to come into the world in Jesus. All our traditions, plans, decorations, and actions remind us that the bright, shining light of his Love had been planned since the dawn of Creation. Throughout the centuries, prophets and messengers announced this Good News, making us ready. And when the time was right, God entered into our world. Not to scold us for everything we’ve done wrong, but to love us and forgive us. WOW! That is something that no virus can stop, no pandemic can prevent, and no protocols can forbid. So, even though our preparations and celebrations will be ‘different’ this year, the Good News of God’s Love through the birth of a tiny child remains the same.

With or without the mince pies.

Blessings of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love be yours this Holy Christmas season,
Stephen