Its been a busy year at St. Anne’s, there has been so many encouragements and so many answers to prayer that if I was to start writing about them all ‘The Vicar Writes’ slot would take over the website!

However, I feel I need to highlight a couple of things though;

This year we have been so blessed by Matt and Liz’s ministry, its been fantastic to see how easily they have settled into life at St. Anne’s. They are a tremendous blessing to us! This year also saw the first Youth Weekend away for our SAYU group (soon to be followed by a second trip in March!). On the same theme, we held our first Men’s Weekend away. We introduced our monthly Café service. Our ladies group ‘Soul Sisters’ was launched. Alongside this we have consolidated so many other aspects of ministry and we have seen a steady growth in our congregations. Our Space2Grow project is gathering momentum and we are now making real progress with this. (Next year will be a huge one as regards this project!)

Why am I telling you this? Well simply, its exciting isn’t it!! Its always good to hear about positive changes. Its fair to say St. Anne’s has most definitely been on a journey of change in recent years. As a church (which is the people) are growing in number and faith. We have more people in housegroups than ever before – many are keen to deepen in their faith – and that for me is what its all about! – That’s exciting because that’s life changing!

And this is what Christmas is all about, because the real meaning of Christmas is truly life changing. As Jesus entered this world as a tiny baby, things were never going to be the same from that day. Quite simply, God came to live among us. Lets take a quick look at a few of those characters from the nativity scene.

For the shepherds life would never be the same. Outcasts living on the hills were invited to see the newborn king. What was the result of this encounter? ‘The shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen’. (Luke 2:20)

The Wisemen followed the star until they came to the stable, upon meeting Jesus ‘they saw the child with his mother Mary and they bowed down and worshipped him’. (Matthew 2: 11)

As for Mary she, ‘Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart’ (Luke 20:19).

For each there was an encounter which resulted in change. Simply put, they met with Christ and it changed their lives, and it resulted in praise and worship. I would also suggest they went from that place and told everyone about it!

And that for me this is still the excitement of Christmas, that as Jesus came into the world all those years ago, still he comes into our world today; to the harassed mother of 3 struggling to keep the family together; to the stressed worker juggling to reach his targets, to the homeless person for whom life seems hopeless, to the alcoholic struggling with addiction…..etc. etc. etc. This is what Christmas is about – Christ came to bring change! And on that day, the world changed forever, he brought a hope where there was none, he brought our salvation with him.

My prayer this Christmas is that once again, we would be brought to the crib and as we look upon that scene, we like the shepherds and the wisemen will be left in awe and wonder and changed by a  personal encounter with the Christ child, that we might find our hearts bursting with the real joy of Christmas so that we can’t help but tell others all about Him! That’s the reason for the season!

May we take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

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