Bittersweet Christmas

Hello everyone,

Christmas is such a bittersweet time.  It’s sunny but the farmers need rain.  It’s family time, but illness or distance make that difficult.  It’s giving time but the bank balance can’t just do it…  But…

At the children’s nativity play, we saw acted out (in the cutest way possible!) variations in the Christmas story between Luke and Matthew’s Gospels.  When the two main characters were asked what they had learned from the differences, Luke said he had learned Jesus was a person of humble origins coming to humble people like shepherds and poor families.  So, the glossy gold and bling and presents of our Christmas today are not a God-based idea.

In the play Matt said he learned Jesus was of David’s ancestral lineage and so of a chiefly line.  Later the apostle Paul made sure locals knew Jesus was a different kind of emperor – that it was even worth persecution to say ‘Jesus is Lord’ rather than ‘Caesar is Lord’ as expected by the Roman empire.  He told early Christians the ‘empire’ Jesus heralded was entirely different from Roman Empire.  So the glossy gold and bling and presents of our Christmas today are not a God-based idea.

There is a lot going on in my family and with my friends this Christmas.  There is a lot going on for members of our community this Christmas.  May we give each other the gift of support, compassion, time, (as much as possible), patience, and as many of the advent wreath virtues of hope, peace, love and joy that we can muster.  To adapt an old saying no one ever died thinking “I wish I had had more expensive Christmas gifts.”  Love is the greatest gift of all.  Let’s give it generously this Christmas. Let’s receive it gratefully this Christmas.

People continue to request copies of the Art and Spirit booklet from the Nov 26 Gathering.  This will not be put online for copyright reasons, but we can supply hard copies.  Email your street address to or make arrangements to pick it up.  If postage is involved, or it’s for someone outside the congregation, you might like to pop an extra dollar or two into the offering some time to cover extra costs.

Some basic notices:

Christian World Service Christmas Appeal envelopes have been available at Sunday Gatherings in Advent.  Please pick one up and post it to CWS yourself with your credit card details or a cheque.  If giving cash, put the envelope with your details in the offering on Sunday.  All cash and CWS envelopes donated on Christmas Eve at 7.30pm will go to CWS.  St Andrew’s envelopes will always go to St Andrew’s. There will be no offering on Christmas Day this year.

At Sunday’s carol service, (Dec 17) we have the unexpected pleasure of the Polish folk group Tekla Klebetnica whose concert is on Saturday December 16 in the church.

It is the last Rainbow Room for the year on Dec 17 too.  I am sad to announce that Jess McKnight is transferring to Waikato University to be near her family for family health reasons in 2018, so the 17th  will be her last day with us.  The children and we have enjoyed Jess being with us, but she has a strongly developed sense of responsibility as the McKnight eldest daughter so returning to Hamilton is a priority for her.  We wish her and her family well.   If you want to send Jess an email message, please send it to the office or to me and we will pass it on.  Thank you Jess and, especially, thank you for the great play on Sunday!

Exploring Faith study group.  I will be prepared for a last session of our DVD series on violence in the Bible on Sunday (Dec 17).  We will see how many want to stay – it is a busy time of year.

Finally …. Morning Tea:  There will also be NO morning tea on December 24th or 25th after the Gathering.  If you are desperate for coffee after the service, you would make one at church (as long as you clear up well afterwards!) or go to a nearby café together.

As CJ Gregg said on West Wing – “that’s a full lid.”  Happy last-week-before-Christmas everyone!


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