The Lambfold Benefice

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Welcome to the website of
The Lambfold Benefice

A group of five Anglican rural parishes

in the geographical centre of England


January - The jollities of the festivities are almost over, Christmas trees and decorations will soon be taken down, (and that one vital piece of the family jigsaw that was dropped or lost somewhere will eventually surface around March). New Year’s resolutions, for a fitter healthier lifestyle will be made-and probably, (if you are anything like me), will soon be forgotten, dispensed with, or otherwise consigned to the ‘will do better next year’ part of the mental filing cabinet. Despite our ability, or inability, to keep many of our New Year resolutions most of us look forward in hope to what the New Year will bring.
Over Christmas I must have read aloud those wonderful words from the beginning of St John’s Gospel, ‘In the beginning was the word...’ over 20 times. It’s a marvellous piece of writing which not only puts succinctly the whole meaning of Christmas and the Incarnation but also points us forward in hope to the difference that the true meaning of Christmas can make. It’s a message that has found its way into secular modern literature and film too. Think of Dickens’ timeless classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ and its various more modern offshoots such as the film ‘Scrooge’ or the musical. Even more modern writings aimed at younger generations, such as ‘The Grinch who stole Christmas’, also have at their heart a very similar message. You probably know the story well, at the heart of it is the Grinch, a grumpy loner living on the edge of town; who gets fed up and annoyed by the town’s celebrations of Christmas. So he decides to steal everything to do with Christmas, - Christmas trees, decorations, food etc. that, he thinks will shut them up. Just as he is about to tip Christmas over the side of the cliff, he pauses to listen to what he hopes will be sounds of sadness as the town wakes up to find Christmas missing. But what he actually hears is the sounds of joy, for the people of the town know that Christmas is not made up of tinsel, presents and food, but the joy of life which they share together. The Grinch slowly begins to understand, returns all he has stolen, and eventually ends up joining in the celebrations. The story ends with some speculation about what made the Grinch change, and the declaration that ‘the Grinch’s heart grew bigger and more welcoming towards people every day.’ I know it’s a little soft, but it’s a story which can help us look forward in hope, keep things in perspective.
At Christmas Christ came into the world to enlarge our hearts, to fill our lives with love for others and to give hope. Like the Grinch we need to understand that Christmas is about love for each other, our love and concern for the world and even our love of ourselves as we come to realise we are loved and accepted by God. - and that is an immense cause for hope as we enter the New Year. The world may not be the way it should be yet; there is still too much that blights it, war, greed selfishness etc. but if we grasp the real meaning of the festival of Christmas we have just celebrated we all have a chance to change to become the people God wants us to be. And that is a New Year resolution worth keeping.
Have a, peaceful, happy and prosperous New Year.
Fr. Tim

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