“Glory to God in the highest heaven, on earth peace among those whom he favours!” Luke 2:14
With the over-commercialisation of Christmas, many have lost sight of the “reason for the season”. In the mad frenzy of giving and receiving presents, we often forget that the reason we give gifts in the first place is because God gave the greatest of gifts to humankind on the first Christmas – his only Son, Jesus Christ. As we fret and rush during our pre-Christmas build up, we can completely lose sight of the central message of peace and hope which God incarnate is meant to be all about. And that message of peace and hope is needed every bit as much in 2012 as it was just over two thousand years ago!
As I write, we are on the threshold of the season of Advent. This season is a relatively short penitential one during which we are expected to take time out to examine ourselves, to amend our lives, to re-focus our priorities and to make spiritual preparations in order that we may celebrate a holy Christmas that is primarily Christ-focused. Unfortunately, the distractions of everyday life make this an impossible goal for many. Especially in these difficult economic times, the stresses of employment insecurity, reduced/non-existent incomes and family pressure take precedence as they struggle to make ends meet. This inevitably adds to the ever-increasing stream of charity appeal letters daily coming through our doors – all genuinely deserving causes. With this Newsletter, you will received another such letter from the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of Ireland requesting support for the work of Protestant Aid. That charitable organisation was founded over 175 years ago to provide relief from the “horrors of poverty and deprivation in the Republic of Ireland on a strictly non-denominational basis, treating all genuine calls for help equally, regardless of religious, ethnic or social backgrounds” (for further information, see Protestant Aid’s website www.protestantaid.org). As a parish, our traditional Advent “Green Jar” appeal will this year support the work of Protestant Aid. However, those intending to make larger contributions (in excess of €250) should forward them directly to P.A. to avail of any tax relief available.
Christmas can and should be a time of giving and sharing as well as receiving. It can and should be a time of great joy and dignified celebration. However, for some, through age, illness or the loss of loved ones, it can be a time of loneliness and isolation which evoke the haunting memories of happier Christmases past. This puts a responsibility on those of us who find Christmas a more pleasant experience – to make us more inclusive as we try to be more supportive and more aware of the plight of those around us and ensuring that nobody is left feeling worthless, left out, lonely or isolated this Christmas.
May I take this opportunity, on behalf of my family and myself, to wish parishioners, families and friends a very Happy, Holy and Peaceful Christmas and a Blessed and Prosperous New Year.
With every blessing,
Rev’d. John Tanner, tel.: 289 3154 / 086 3021376.