Well … here I am; the new Vicar of the Benefice of Upper Wensleydale, sat in my lovely new study gazing out at the snow-capped hills in the distance and trying to take in the fact that we are now actually living in this beautiful place.
Those of you who have undergone the process of preparing for a move of any kind will recognise the enormous amount of preparation time involved to ensure that the process takes place in as ordered a fashion as is possible. We have been no different in that respect but our removal preparations have also run alongside maintenance work at our old home, my planning for new responsibilities, my wife Sarah finishing her work as an Early Years Leader in a large Primary School and everything else that is involved in arranging the marriage of your daughter. It’s been a busy few months!
And now it’s December and the planning and preparing changes gear once more as the countdown to the 25th begins. The four weeks before Christmas is known as Advent. Advent refers to an arrival, a start, a new beginning. Many of you I am sure will have an Advent calendar in your homes creating an opportunity to open a new window every day, increasing that sense of expectation and excitement of the big day itself; but if we’re not careful we may miss out on the joy of the preparation as we get caught up in the rush of events around us.
A recent survey conducted by a major supermarket chain discovered that over 90% of women begin stockpiling food for Christmas in July. Good planning? God began his preparations for the first Christmas even earlier than 5 months before the event. Documents written some 800 years before the birth of Jesus tell us where he would be born, who his mother would be and what would happen to him during his lifetime in incredible detail. Now that’s what I call preparation!
The Christian writer C.S.Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia writes that at Christmas we remember the ‘central event in the history of the earth- the very thing the whole story has been about’.
I hope that amongst all the wonderful bustle and excited rush of the season you may be able to take time to consider what the story is all about – that God sent his son Jesus, to be born and live amongst us that we might know just how much he loves us.
It would be great to see you and celebrate together at any of our services during this season and may the God of hope and love and promise fill your hearts with joy this Christmas and bless you and those you love with a wonderful 2017.
Rev Dave Clark
Vicar of the Benefice of Upper Wensleydale