Talofa lava, this is our last E News for the year as we close the office for the holiday period and reopen on the 16th of January. I spent my Monday afternoon at the Warehouse Stationery in Petone printing off photos of my eleven great nieces and nephews to make up a photo montage for the wall in my lounge. I just want an up-to-date visual reference of them so that I can keep them in my prayers and watch their progress over time. It was quite an exciting project, a Christmas present to myself. I’m quite proud of it.

This time in the biblical narrative, Joseph and Mary would be nearing Bethlehem they are probably two thirds of the way closer to their destination. Mary will be exhausted and tired given that she is in her third trimester of pregnancy and Joseph will be making her his priority rather than the destination. When have you walked a difficult journey in your life that you wanted to stop and rest but couldn’t? Sometimes the roads we travel can be full of risk and danger and yet we have no control over it. But in hindsight we can look back and think, wow! How did I get through that? Sometimes there seems to be no end to the uncertain terrain the peaks and the valleys, the light and the dark the smooth and the rough. But Christmas time gives us an opportunity to stop and after we put the tinsel and glitter aside we take a moment to remember the humility and poverty into which the baby born in a manger entered into. Jesus was born in the humblest of places and placed in a feeding trough filled with hay for his cradle. There were no signs of royalty and majesty just the mooing of the cattle and bleating of the lambs.

I’m sure your Christmas will be as humble as mine and we will take time to spend with family and friends. If you are home alone on Christmas day, know that we are thinking of you and hope that you find your time on your own a time to be thoughtful and at peace. Let us know if you would like some company on Christmas day so that we can arrange for you to have lunch with someone from our church family, it is always easy to put out an extra plate.

I met with Colin Daley today who is organising the Awaken Conference on the 17-19th March for the LGBTQI community to be held at Durham St. Methodist Church Christchurch. They are hoping that I will be available to attend. It clashes with the Presbytery gathering in Palmerston North the same weekend so I will have to give my apologies to one of them. Please note it in your diaries if this is something you would like to attend.

We welcome Christine Wilkinson who will begin her role as Office Administrator on 16 January and will be working up to 30 hours a week alongside Adelina. Christine comes to us from the food technology industry. She was looking for a change and wants to work in a team situation and so we are delighted to have someone with her experience join us. Christine will be looking after the Parish work and supporting me. Please introduce yourself to Christine if you are passing by.

Meantime Adelina will be taking a well deserved break until early February and will spend most of January in Hong Kong with her family. Amy de Bruin, one of our very capable (nearly graduated) students, and Christine will run the office from 16 January until Adelina returns.

On the 1st January New Years day we will be having a baby blessing for Fergus Matariki Rémi Aussenac, the grandson of Ben Gray and Lynne Dovey.  Be lovely to see you there.

Thanks to Jim Cunningham and Richard Owen for tracking down this poem by Joy Cowley I’m sure they won’t mind if I also use it today.

Poem                  24 December               by Joy Cowley
The machines shudder into silence.
The last sheep slides down the chute
and staggers out of the shed,
giddy with sudden weight loss.The shearers, glossed with sweat,
take the lid of the chilly bin.
They sit with hands wrapped around cans,
sweet coldness against cracked fingers,
while outside a tui gargles the heat
and spits it out in two long clear notes.The shed hand rolls a can across his brow, and says,
“It’s beginning to feel like Christmas.”On the back lawn, near the potato patch,
the woman creaks the revolving line
as she unpegs clothes stiff with sunlight.
The smell of summer  is mixed with noise,
pungent cicadas, loud brass marigolds,
the grass beneath her bare feet is as warm as cat’s fur.
She looks over her shoulder and reminds herself
to dig some new potatoes for tomorrow,
and she thinks with sudden pleasure,
It’s beginning to feel like Christmas.The children and the dog have been in the pool
but the dog in the excitement, bit the plastic
and now the pool is collapsing,
pouring water over hot concrete.
The children run through the flood
making footprints that dry in seconds.
“Happy Birthday to you,” they sing.
Happy birthday, dear Jesus.”

Their granddad at the kitchen window,
remembers his own childhood.
He thinks of the small footprints
that have stamped the earth
since that little fellow in the stable,
and he smiles as he dries the dishes.
It sure feels like Christmas.

I hope you will all have a blessed Christmas and New Year and I look forward to seeing some of you at our Sunday services and for those of you who are part of our St. Andrew’s diaspora in other parts of New Zealand I’m glad that we can stay connected through this forum. Go gently ma ia manuia le Kirisimasi ma le Tausaga Fou. Fei

You can read the full E-News here: https://mailchi.mp/a63f7bfb5aeb/this-weeks-newsletter-from-st-andrews-on-the-terrace-9271147

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