Rector’s Letter December 2017

‘Love came down at Christmas’

The Christmas hymn by Christina Rossetti is not one of our best known carols but it certainly gets to the heart of what we are celebrating; the poem points not to a God who is far away and uncaring, but one who has come to live among us as pure love.  It is easy to get depressed by the terrible things going on in our world, one tragedy after another, it seems.  But it needn’t be like that as Jesus has showed us.  This is not what we humans are made for.  We are made for love – to know the love of God and to show his love to those around us.

At Christmas we often give and receive presents and many of us still remember the excitement of coming downstairs as children on Christmas morning to open them!   But as adults we still appreciate presents and they often represent the thoughtfulness of those who love us or are close to us.  And as Christians they can also have a deeper meaning.  They can remind us that God’s grace is pure gift, that his love is unmerited, that we can’t earn it even if we wanted to.  God’s gift of love that comes to us in the person of Jesus is the most valuable gift we can ever receive because it brings with it the assurance that we are valued by God and have a unique place in his purpose.  When we receive it, this divine love puts our other loves into perspective – not that they are not wonderful too, but that God’s love is so much greater and more far reaching – stretching from the beginning of time to its very else.  It is so great that no one is beyond its generous reach.

All the Christmas stories points us to this one truth, a truth that has changed the world and which continues to change lives around the world.  The question for us is; will we allow ourselves to be embraced by this love and to get to know God better? Or will we settle for leaving the gift unopened to one side?  I hope you will think deeply about this gift which God offers you.  It is the most wonderful gift you can ever receive; but it will change you!

Parish Plans

Plans for the vacancy are already coming together, although much remains to be done.  The Archdeacon of Exeter, the Venerable Christopher Futcher, plans to come and have an initial meeting with our benefice churchwardens this month to outline how the vacancy and appointment will proceed.  I am delighted that Canon Ian Morter, formerly Canon Pastor at Exeter Cathedral, has agreed to give some assistance during the vacancy, especially supporting The Revd Helen Drever in her continuing curacy.  Ian will be her official ‘supervisor’ but he will also be coming to take services and he will be taking the 9.30am service first on Sunday 14 January, the week after my farewell.   The Revd David Francis has kindly agreed to coordinate weddings in the Crediton and Shobrooke parishes during the vacancy and requests for Baptism and Funerals should, in the first instance, be directed to the Parish Office. All Sandford services will, of course,  continue to be coordinated by The Revd Paul Fillery.  I’m sure that you will want to give them, and our churchwardens, your fullest support and warmest encouragement as they manage the extra duties involved.

Magazine Thanks

At the end of 2017 I would like to say a special thank you to Rose Grisman for her great work as our magazine editor.  Rose does an amazing job gathering all the monthly contributions and producing such an attractive and readable publication.

I would also like to say a huge thank you to Kathleen Hughes and all of our faithful distributors who get the magazine out each month.  And finally I would like to thank our contributors and advertisers and Hedgerow Print who do such a good job printing for us.

Finance

I would also, at the end of the year, like to thank all of you who have generously supported our benefice churches through your regular financial giving.  Paying the parish share and keeping up with our bills continues to be a challenge for us, as it is for many parishes.  I am sincerely grateful to our three PCCs for their commitment to paying the parish share promptly so that the ministry of Exeter Diocese, and our local churches, can continue.

Christmas Events and Services at Holy Cross

This year the first Sunday in December is Advent Sunday and at Holy Cross we will have a Family Communion in the Boniface Centre at 9.30am and then the choir will lead our Advent Procession ‘From Darkness to Light’ at 6pm.   Our Christmas Tree Festival runs from Thursday 7th December to Sunday 10th and I know that many preparations are underway for some beautiful trees.   There will be two concerts again this year as part of the Festival.  On Saturday 9th December the North Creedy Choral Society will perform, at 7.30pm conducted by Richard Stephens.  Then on Sunday 10th December our own Church Choir will close the Festival with a concert at 6pm. Do come along and enjoy some festive music among the trees!

Haywards School and Landscore School, Pippins Playgroup and the year 7 and 8 pupils from Queen Elizabeth’s will be coming to Holy Cross for their carols this year and, for the first time the Exe Valley Federation of Schools will also be using the church for their Carols.  During the Christmas Tree Festival we will be hosting a Hospiscare ‘Light up a life’ Service on Thursday 7th December at 7pm and this event is open for anyone to attend.

I would also like to mention the services which are particularly for families and children.  This year our Christingle Service, supporting the work of the Children’s Society, will be on Sunday, 17th December at 3pm when the Town Band will lead the carols.  On Christmas Eve, 24th December at 4.30pm the Crib Service will, once again, feature local children singing and re-telling the Christmas story.  On Christmas Morning the children are encouraged to bring their Christmas presents to our 10am Communion.

We will welcome the Bishop of Crediton, Dame Sarah Mullally, to lead and preach at Midnight Mass (Christmas Eve at 11.30pm at Holy Cross).  Carols will be sung by the choir around the Christmas Tree from 11pm.

On Sunday 31st December there will be a service at Holy Cross without choir in the morning and a Carol Service with the West Gallery Choir at 6pm in St Lawrence Chapel.  Then my last Sunday will be  January 7th when a Family Communion for Epiphany will be held in the Boniface Centre, a farewell lunch and then the beautiful Epiphany Carol Service with seasonal music and readings at 6pm at Holy Cross.

I hope that you will be able to join us for worship during the Advent and Christmas seasons and that you will know the hope and peace of Jesus Christ in your hearts and homes.

On behalf of all the clergy who serve in our benefice, and of Tina and our family, I would like to wish all our readers a very happy and peaceful Christmas.

Nigel Guthrie

Rev. Prebendary, Crediton Parish Church.

Photos © Bill Jerman