From The Rev’d Gareth Miller – November 2017

Brian Wood

The Rev’d Gareth Miller

From The Rector:

I was deeply touched to witness the care and attention given to the observance of Remembrance tide in our three primary schools. At one school, I had been showing and talking about my grandfather’s medals and my father’s experience as a prisoner of war. Suddenly a hand went up and one boy started to tell me about his own grandfather. Then another hand, and another, and one by one the children had family stories to tell. I fear we ran over into play-time! At another school children had written letters to the men of the village who had given their lives in the First World War.

In some ways it might seem macabre to remind the young and innocent of the horrors of war. But sooner or later they need to become acquainted with the dreadful atrocities that human beings inflict on one another. Recently we have become all too aware of the abuse by those in power, sometimes in politics, or the church, or in the media or celebrity world, of the young and the vulnerable. Sadly, the church has been just as compromised as other elements of society, and the way things have been handled has often left a lot to be desired.

In our parishes and benefice we take these issues very seriously. All those engaged in our children and families’ work have undergone the statutory checks. All parishes have adopted a Safeguarding Policy and we have our own trained Safeguarding Officer.

At Christmas we celebrate the one who “though he was in the form of God, emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (St Paul, writing to the church in Philippi). Paul writes “Have this mind among yourselves.” In other words, Christians are called to imitate the humility of Jesus, by laying aside all claims, all pretensions to power, glamour and celebrity. Jesus, says the apostle, “became obedient, even unto death.” That means that we try to measure our lives against the yardstick of Christ. I find, like Paul, that the self, in all its vanity, keeps getting in the way. The only way I have found to keep a sense of what is right is to try to keep the pattern of Jesus always in mind and to bring myself and my struggles to him in prayer.

There’s a very moving hymn which we sometimes sing at Christmas to a lovely French tune:

“Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becamest poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
“Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becamest poor.

The last verse contains these lines:

Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
Make us what thou wouldst have us be.

I look forward to seeing many of you at our Christmas services. As we prepare for the festive season, perhaps those two lines might be our prayer – that we might each day and each year become just a little more the people God longs for us to become.

I wish you a very happy Christmas and every blessing for 2018.


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