Chapel Street Methodist Church
Penzance

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Minister's Letter, 23 December

From the Revd Alastair Bolt

Dear Friends,

By the time you receive this, we will be able to say as the great and late John Lennon did, “And so this is Christmas”, and we may then go on as he did to ask “and what have you done, another year over, and another just begun?”. It would be too obvious to say that in 2020 we have just done Covid. The virus has certainly dominated the national consciousness which has just now reached a fresh peak of concern and near panic. But we have done lots of other things this year. To do them we have often had to work around Covid restrictions, but we have still made choices as to what we have done. Whether it has been what you have eaten each day, whom you have contacted and what you have said; relationships you have invested in, and those you have neglected; things you have poured time and effort into and those things you have side-lined. The present state of your friendships, your fitness, your garden, your pets, your understanding and even your faith will in part be the result of the decisions you have made, what you have done, and what you have not done.

Now is a good time to reflect. This is not only a matter of repenting of ‘the evil we have done and the good we have not done, through ignorance, weakness or our own deliberate fault.’ We can reflect on our choices between equally good things; projects and initiatives we have begun; good intentions that have not worked out; sacrifices that have been worth it. To reflect gives the opportunity to see how we are and who we are, and this gives us a firm foundation for any changes we need to make. If we are to pray in the New Year, “Lord, I am no longer my own but Yours”, we need a rough idea about who we are, or we may misunderstand what (or who) we are committing to God in the Covenant service.

It is a cliché to say that light is important at Christmas. Beyond the profound picture of The Light in John 1, and the evocative lights shining from the angels and the star, God gives us joy through our little lights, candle and electric. The advent of weather-proof LED lights has transformed the decorations on houses and in the streets. In recent years one of Newlyn’s corners has been graced by a large, colourful mermaid, swishing her tail at one end and smiling at the other. Mermaids symbolise the idea of joining two irreconcilable things together, the beautiful lady emerging from the sea, and they do it by being half human and half fish.

At Christmas, we celebrate the truth that God Who is Spirit became a human being in Jesus. As this is a wonder and a mystery, it is tempting to think of Jesus as half God and half human; to see Him as somehow less than God the Father, but greater than a normal human being. It is as if both His divinity and His humanity have to be compromised so that they can be joined up, a bit like what is supposed to happen at the mermaid’s waistline. The great truth of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ was completely God and completely human, 100% of each, even if those percentages don’t normally work! This is vital at Christmas as it explains why Jesus’ death on the cross is so effective in breaking the power of sin. It was at the same time a Spiritual sacrifice and a traumatic physical event.

So, this year let us take a refreshed look at the Baby in the manger, smelling of baby but born into a manger, a stable and a world He had created.

May you all have a blessed, peaceful and safe Christmas.

Alastair's signature

Published at 16:05 on 22 December 2020

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