Rev. Andrew Dart

PASTORAL LETTER

I always find Advent and Christmas to be a joyful time.  But it is also a very noisy time.  Everywhere you go there are Christmas jingles being played, people shouting for your attention and advertisers clamouring to be heard.  In the Church we raise our voices even higher to sing those favourite carols and in our homes we might find there are more people than usual, the television is louder than usual and the stress levels are certainly higher than usual.

It is no wonder that the true message of Christmas often gets drowned out.  St John, in the eloquent prologue to his gospel, reminds us that the true message of Christmas is that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  In other words God did not just speak but He came to speak to us in a real person who shared our humanity.  In Jesus God speaks to us – person to person, man to man, woman to woman.

But how will we hear Him speaking if we are not listening?  How will we hear Him if our towns and cities, our homes and Churches are full of noise?  How will we listen to Him if our minds and hearts, our attention and concentration are elsewhere?

For God refuses to shout at us like some politicians do; God refuses to catch our attention with some slick presentation as the advertisers do.  Rather God just arrives as a baby.  And not a quiet baby as the carols might tell us – but a baby who cried and gurgled and giggled and burped.  God simply places Himself in our arms and says: pay attention.  You need me. But right now I need you too.

Parents will know that only by listening can you really tell what your baby needs.  Is she hungry?  Does she need a new nappy?  Is he tired?  Does he just need a cuddle?

So this Christmas I hope and pray that you find time to stop and listen.  I hope you manage to find some empty space and a quiet corner to pay attention to what God – Word made flesh – might want to say to you.  For God is coming.  And he has something very special to say to you.  Will you be listening?

May I wish you all a hopeful Advent and a peaceful Christmas!

Andy