Called out of our comfort zone

Christmas, the birth of God in human form, is not a scene from a card or a chocolate box. Christmas asks us questions and this year, the questions are more uncomfortable, more discerning.

Whatever your personal circumstances are this Christmas, you are not alone! Many of us have had to make deep personal sacrifices in order that our friends and families stay safe. My mother, who is 90 and without the vaccine, will be spending her first Christmas alone. It seems that this Christmas will be celebrated at huge personal cost to many of us.

This level of disruption and unsettlement is, however, how the Christmas story plays out. Due to forces outside of their control, Mary and Joseph are called out of their comfort and family joy by the Roman Census. We know the events surrounding the birth of Jesus – they seek out a shelter, they are eventually joined by strangers and animals. After the birth they have to seek asylum in Egypt. Christmas, the birth of God in human form, is not a scene from a card or a chocolate box. Christmas asks us questions and this year, the questions are more uncomfortable, more discerning.

As we reflect upon 2020 and the virus named after 2019, we realise that in 2021 our hope is founded. But I think the perspective of many of us has changed. Will we ever take for granted the embrace of a loved one, the hug of a grandparent, the sign of peace in church (the holy kiss). So, we should question our intent to give thanks for those whom we love, to reconcile ourselves to those who are difficult to love, to pray for the lost and the lonely.

I am deeply distressed that we cannot freely gather together and celebrate the birth of Christ. I dislike having to ask people to ‘book’ their places in church. I do not like having to request people to keep their distance and leave church promptly. All of these unfortunate things are necessary. I hope that St Michael’s, Summertown has been able to engage with you this Advent and into the twelve days of the Christmas season? We have posted videos, launched a calendar, extracted sermons, recorded services, displayed the Christmas tree, crib and angels in the Threshold. Please take time and have a look at our website https://www.stmichaels-summertown.org.uk for more information. Some of the highlights are below.

For the children and young families

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prZ7dz6Erxk

The Christmas story – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMU0ozNyARM&t=8s

CHRISTMAS DAY

We still have spaces for the 8am and 10am Eucharists on Christmas Day. Please email me, Gavin Knight at: vicar@stmichaels-summertown.org.uk to book a chair. We have enough space and are well prepared to invite people in safety. It would be good to see you. Remember, we are all called out of our comfort zone this Christmas.

OTHER NEWS

From our link parish in Taung, South Africa. Tumelo is a member of St Chad’s Church in Taung and visited in 2011.   

We are still protected under God’s wings. Things have changed in South Africa. We are having a 2nd corona surge. This time, it is so fast 10 000 people are infected daily in Kwa Zulu Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape are worse. 200 death daily. Scientist have identified a new corona virus just like in UK. The big problem is that youths don’t care and they are infecting the elders. I think the government doesn’t know what to do. We must just pray hard for this situation. We are attending church services and observing corona protocol. We did not arrange for carols but will be having service on Christmas Day at 8am.Early next year will be election of a new bishop. We are praying hard for the right person to serve His people. We are waiting for rain in the North West though other provinces are experiencing floods and severe thunder storm. My garden is doing very well this summer, we are have unions, green beans and spinach. We wish all the churches a Happy Festive season and are praying for you all.  Tumelo

From Summertown URC:

We have recently decided to revive our Spring and Autumn Lectures but now screened on zoom for the foreseeable future, until covid regulations allow otherwise. The first of these is now arranged for FRIDAY, 22nd JANUARY 2021, from 7 pm – 8 pm, when Michael Taylor, a former Director of Christian Aid, will speak on ‘THE STRANGER AT OUR GATES;  REFLECTIONS ON MIGRATION BY A NON-SPECIALIST.’ It will be necessary for you to register with her by e-mail on or before Monday, 18th January, please, at phyllwill@gmail.com

With my prayers, love and blessings for this Christmas to all of you,

Gavin

Author: Gavin Knight

The Revd Gavin Knight has been the Vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Summertown in the Oxford Diocese since September 2011. After serving his title at St Alphege, Solihull, Gavin became parish priest of St Andrew's Fulham Fields in London. He moved to Wales in 2005 becoming Chaplain to Monmouth School. He is married to Jo, a clinical psychologist, and they have three sons.