Advent is almost here as I begin to write for this month’s magazine. As I look to the month ahead, I see how full my diary is, how
many things there are to plan, to prepare for and to do. My worry is that in the busyness and distractions that December always
brings I will lose my focus on what it is all about; that I will forget the reason for all the activity.

This can so easily happen to any one of us in December. We spend so much time thinking about the jobs that must be done if we
are going to have a ‘proper’ Christmas with family and friends - the planning of presents and cards and meals and visits; the time
and energy spent shopping and preparing.

But, as always, the heart of Christmas is very simple: God coming to us in the smallness and vulnerability of a tiny baby. He was
born as a child of the poor, right from His first breath Jesus had nowhere to lay His head. He was so very easy to miss, to ignore;
and many people on that first Christmas did miss what was happening; so many did ignore Him.

But if what we believe about Christmas is the truth, if what the Bible tells us about this child is true, then we truly have something
worth remembering and celebrating. We have something worth holding on to throughout this hectic month.

In Jesus God is among us; in Jesus we see the true face of God, turned to us not in anger or judgement or disappointment, but in
love. In Jesus God is reaching out to the world that He created, the world that He loves with a passion stronger than death.

If I can hold onto this, the heart and soul of Christmas, then I will know why I will be spending so much time and energy this
December. The services and special events in St Mary’s during December are not just to fill the Church, not to make us feel better
or to warm our hearts. They are our response to the amazing love of God. Our focus is on Jesus, on worship, as we respond to the
amazing grace of God once again.

And, if we keep in our minds the hope for the world and for all people that the birth of Jesus represents, then we will remember
why we are spending so much time and effort preparing those celebrations with the people we love. In the middle of winter we
have a reason to celebrate and a reason to hope.

I pray that in all the many distractions this month we will keep our focus on Jesus. I pray that as we sing the carols, wrap the
presents and send the cards we will know the joy and the hope of Christmas. I pray that as we gather together we will know that
Jesus is among us. I pray that the Christ who was born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago will be born in our hearts this
Christmas; and that we will be renewed by His presence.

A very happy Christmas and a peaceful New year to you,

God bless,
Thought for the Month