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Viewpoint from Rt Rev Dr Alan Winton 24/12/2020

alan wintonRt Rev Dr Alan Winton
Bishop of Thetford

We can be sure of one thing: this is going to be an unusual Christmas. There have been other unusual Christmases before
Those who lived through the Second World War will know what it was like to be separated from loved ones and to have faced restrictions on their lives and on their celebrations much harder than those we face today. Others will have more individual, poignant and painful memories, of a Christmas marked by illness or bereavement, the loss of a job, the breakdown of a marriage, or sudden, devastating homelessness. None of this will make it much easier for those who face real hardship or loneliness this Christmas, but it does give some perspective to what we’re facing
dove leftPerhaps, though, we may face this Christmas a little more thankful for what we do have, and not simply focus on what we’re missing
There may also be more awareness of and gratitude for those who continue working through the holiday period, to keep us safe, to care for the sick, to feed the hungry, to ensure our homes are warm and that the TV can still show us ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ or ‘The Muppets’ Christmas Carol’
What this Christmas may also bring us is a little more time and space, if we choose to find it. We may use this time to count our blessings and say a prayer of thanksgiving. We might pray for those who will be working hard on our behalf, or for those whose circumstances are much more challenging than our own
Dove rightMaybe we’ll also find ourselves following in the footsteps of Mary, the birth of whose son is the original focus of our Christmas celebrations. I imagine Mary sitting in a quiet moment, after the rush to find somewhere to rest, after the effort and labour of the birth, and after the excitement of the shepherds visit.  St Luke tells us that after all these things, Mary pondered in her heart what she had seen and heard and experienced on that first Christmas night
If ever there was a Christmas to ensure we have some time and space to ponder, this is surely the one. Ponder the birth of the one who came to bring light into our darkness, hope into our despair, joy into our sorrow. None of us need feel alone – Emmanuel – God is with us. Happy Christmas

+ Alan Thetford

also published in the Great Yarmouth Mercury



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