Dear friends,

Warm greetings in the name of Christ.

I pray that this advent season leading up toChristmas joy and celebrations will be a time of rich blessing for you.

For me personally, this time begins with a much-needed period of retreat, prayer, study, and reflection. I will be travelling to north Wales to St Deiniol’s Library to enjoy a week’s study leave. This is a beautiful place to study and rest, and I have enjoyed their magnificent facilities more than once before. There are some photos of this historic library, which is also known as Gladstone’s Library as part of this letter. Please pray for me as I seek God’s guidance and spiritually prepare for advent and beyond.

For some time, I have been praying about the “Remembering a loved one”service which we are hosting for our community on December 4that 4.00pm. I have really been seeking the Lord for His guidance and direction concerning the content of this service because I truly want this time to be a blessing to those who are carrying grief and loss in their hearts. Christmas can be a particularly emotional and difficult time for them, and I hope that what our Church is able to offer on December 4th will be a source of enormous comfort and strength.Support this service through your prayers please.

Rabbi Earl A Grollman was right when he said this about grief:

Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.

May the bereaved be deeply touched by God’s infinite love and light. God can turn darkness into light. He is Light.

Behold – Jesus is the light of the world!

Our gracious God understands grief and pain. He came into this world in Jesus – Immanuel – God with us. At some point as a young man, Jesus would have grieved over the loss of his earthly father Joseph. We know that he grieved with Mary and Martha by the grave of their brother Lazarus. He wept with them. Then he returned their lost loved one to them demonstrating thatHe is the Resurrection and the Life! When Jesus died on the cross, he was grief stricken and so was His beloved Father in heaven. To return to the Rabbi’s wise words:

Grief is the price you pay for love. God so loved the world that he gave His only Son.

The great theologian Jurgen Moltmann wrote these memorable and arresting truths in his famous book The Crucified God:

On the cross, the Fatherlessness of the Son was matched by the Sonlessness of the Father.

At Christmas we celebrate the fact that in Jesus – God made his home with us. God became incarnate. Eternal Love and Light came down atChristmas. God understands all our griefs and sorrows and His precious Son even died for our sins, griefs, and sorrows on the cross. Jesus also destroyed death and He brings eternal life and hope to all who will put their trust in him. Our Christmas and Easter message combine to sing out God’s love for us. “Such love”– as Graham Kendrick writes and sings.

This Christmas, remember and give thanks for the indescribable gift ofJesus. Give thanks for the light and life he brings to human hearts, hopes, and fears. Be ready and willing to follow him into a new year. Walk in His way, live in His love, be guided by His light.

Yours in the love of Jesus and wishing you a happy Christmas and peaceful 2023,