In church we have had an unusual start to Advent this year. On Advent Sunday we held a joint service with St Martin’s as it was the first Sunday of the month and the following weekend the snow came. So I wasn’t able to get any further than the centre of Hitchin on Sunday morning. But those who managed to get to church sorted out an appropriate service for themselves. Morning Prayer with unaccompanied hymns including the Advent Candle ceremony happened at St Martin’s and at All Saints’ Peter Liddell was present so there was a communion service and there were hymns with piano accompaniment rather than organ. Peter, our organist, lives in Letchworth too. I was delighted to receive emails about these services during the afternoon; I had returned home, with some difficulty, and my worship was thanks to BBC Radio IPlayer.
Dawn and I are visiting the schools and pre-schools this month for various Christmas events. So far I have shared the Christmas story with the children at Preston Pre-school, seen the younger children at Preston School do their Nativity play and have just returned from the Key Stage 2 Carol service at St Martin’s – all lovely occasions. The rest are still to come and I look forward to them all.
Once again as we take stock of the year we realise how many problems exist throughout the world. In 1917 people were horrified by Passchendaele; now in 2017 we have problems here at home – terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, the tragedy of the Grenfell fire and more, while overseas war and the plight of refugees continue. Last year I wrote of the challenges we might face in 2017; 2018 too will, of course, bring opportunities and disappointments for each of us personally and for the UK and the wider world. The time off that most of us have over Christmas and New Year offers us the chance to pause for thought and resolve to do things differently – more thoughtfully, less extravagantly, less selfishly, more carefully in 2018. I hope the Christmas message of love, hope and peace will stir each of us into a small gesture in 2018 and many small gestures could make a big difference.
At the beginning of December it was time to leave the Parish Office in Whitwell High Street. I have been very happy there in my cosy ‘home’ for more than seven years. We will let you know, as soon as we can, the new address for the Parish Office. My contact details are at the top of this letter.
I hope the Christmas season went well for you and those close to you. I offer you my prayers and good wishes for the New Year.