One of the poets I turn to again and again for inspiration is Ann Lewin. She writes with simplicity, using images from the natural world, and sheds a light on everyday occurrences that helps one view things from a fresh perspective. So as we begin another Advent I thought I'd share with you her poem 'Suitable presents'.
If it’s the thought that counts,
What were they thinking of
To give him these, Gold
Frankincense and Myrrh?
Extraordinary gifts to give a child.
When Mary pondered, later, on these things,
I wonder if she thought that
These are given to all –
Gold: our potential, gifts that make us
Royal, each in our own domain;
Incense: our aspirations, prayers
And dreams, calling us on;
Myrrh: soothing healing for our pain.
Not gifts for children,
But like him, we’ll grow.
©Ann Lewin, from ‘Watching the Kingfisher’
Giving and receiving gifts can be a pleasure, but it can also be a real headache. Who will we give to? What should we give? How will it be received? Are we giving because we want to bless someone or because we feel we ought? The media creates pressure for everything to be perfect, and many feel caught in a web of expectations. But this time of year doesn't have to be expensive, and it certainly shouldn't cause us to get into debt. This 'season of goodwill' shouldn't be at the expense of the planet, our mental health or our bank balances.
How about thinking it differently this year? If we wish to give a material Christmas gift perhaps it could be fair-trade, plastic-free, locally made, or home made. Or alternatively an experience, or the promise of time spent together nurturing a relationship, doing something you enjoy? Or there are now a whole range of charities offering virtual gifts, that will benefit others who really need the support, while reminding a friend they have been thought of.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if, like the magi, we could choose gifts that enhance someone's potential, encourage their self-esteem, fuel their aspirations, encourage their dreams, soothe and heal their pain?
And when Christmas comes, let's invite friends to celebrate with us in our churches the greatest gift ever given - he who came as a helpless baby and who would grow into those gifts and share them freely and extravagantly with all.
May the blessing of the Prince of Peace be with you and your families as you prepare for and celebrate this Christmas.
Revd Lizzie Hood
(Team Rector, Benefice of Langelei)
Christian Aid Prayers:
Christian Aid prayers: South Sudan
Blessed are the peacemakers. Please pray for a blessing on peacemakers such as Bishop Paride who as part of the South Sudan Council of Churches has been calling for peace for many years. Give thanks for his work and witness. Pray for peace in South Sudan, and for Christian Aid partners working there to help communities forge a flourishing future, despite a context of conflict.
Prince of peace, we thank you for the prophetic voice of your church in South Sudan. We pray for a lasting peace and strength to walk the long road of rebuilding and reconciliation. Amen
All Saints Christmas Tree Festival: Friday 7 to Sunday 9 December
All Saints are once again having a Christmas Tree festival with many trees being decorated by local community groups. Christian Aid will be one of these, with the theme for this year: ‘Be a peacemaker this Christmas’. Our thanks go to Hanna and Lyndsay for decorating it. Please do come along and see this wonderful display.
A reminder that carols in the High Street will now be on 15th December and not 22 December from 10.00 to 11.00 followed by coffee and mince pies in the Bookshop, to tie in with the TIK market. Carols outside Sainsbury’s on 14 December will be from 10.00 to 2.00pm and two local schools will be joining us for that.
Read the Autumn 2018 Campaign Update from our Christian Aid Committee.
The Kings Langley Christian Aid Annual Report for 2017 is available for download.