Superintendent’s Pastoral Letter : Rev. Arthur Cowburn

Dear Friends,

A couple of years ago, the following headline appeared in newspapers, “Greggs apologise after replacing baby Jesus with a sausage roll in their advent calendar!” There isn’t much you can say about that is there? The image of three wise men gazing longingly at a sausage roll. It’s probably as well they came from the East as such a thing certainly wouldn’t be permitted to be eaten under Jewish food laws. We had a good laugh about it, but it does raise the question of what people worship at Christmas. When I look at the amount of stuff being offered for sale and know what it will be like in food shops in the run up to Christmas maybe the sausage roll isn’t far from reality except that it probably ought to be something a little more grand. In terms of the true meaning of Christmas it’s a million miles away from a humble birth for a baby King. The wise men were probably as astonished to find themselves worshipping a King in a feeding trough as they would have been with a meat filled pastry. It didn’t and doesn’t fit anybody’s concept of how such things are supposed to happen. And that is one of the challenges for us as Christians. It’s all too easy for people to look at the Christmas story and dismiss it as a lovely fairy story which goes alongside Father Christmas and a host of other things. They hear it every year but fail to recognise the impact it can have on their lives and the life of the world. But by that story God declares his love for, and his involvement with, the poor and outcasts of our society. Unfortunately, that message can easily get lost amongst the tinsel and the glitter, even in our churches. We need to display by our actions as well as our words just how amazing and life transforming the Christmas story can be. And as we do that, let’s also remember that Jesus enjoyed a party. He doesn’t call us to be killjoys but to keep things in perspective and to keep the Kingdom of God at the forefront of all we do. Not sure he’d have wanted the sausage roll though.

With best wishes for Christmas and the New Year

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