Rector’s Letter (till Sep 07)

 

Fr. John Nice

Fr. John Nice


Rector’s Letter December 2015

rector : November 29, 2015 11:34 am : RectorsLetter

December 2015

This month brings us to the end of our 150th anniversary year at Holy Trinity. And what a wonderful year it has been! Everyone will have his or her own special memories – but the event which made the most impression on me, apart from the Anniversary Service itself which was of course very special – was last month’s All Souls’ Requiem Eucharist accompanied by the wonderful music of Fauré. To celebrate the Eucharist is always a powerful experience but to do it accompanied by such profound music at a service to commemorate the departed in Christ was particularly moving. It would be good to hear what you found most memorable about the year’s events.

But the year is not quite over – we still have one anniversary event ahead of us: the Christmas Tree Festival. This will hopefully bring many folk into Holy Trinity in the run up to Christmas and be a great conclusion to the anniversary year as well as helping us to prepare for Christmas.

Christmas Tree festivals are quite common these days but this is the first time we have had one in our parish as far as I am aware. Some have questioned if a church full of trees is indeed an appropriate way to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Our Lord. They point to the probable pagan origin of the Christmas tree. However, whatever its origin, the Christmas Tree does actually have a respectable Christian pedigree. St Boniface, at the time of the conversion of the German people to Christianity, is said to have cut down an oak tree used in pagan worship and to have replaced it with an evergreen tree. He told his converts that the evergreen’s triangular shape spoke of the Holy Trinity and that it also pointed to heaven. In the 16th century the reformer Martin Luther is said to have added lighted candles to an evergreen tree; and more recently Pope John Paul called the Christmas Tree a symbol of Christ. He spoke of it exalting the value of life, as in winter what is evergreen becomes a sign of undying life. It also reminds Christians of the ‘tree of life’ (Genesis 2.9), an image of Christ, the supreme gift of God to humanity. “Beside the crib,” Pope John Paul said, “the Christmas tree, with its twinkling lights, reminds us that with the birth of Jesus the tree of life has blossomed anew in the desert of humanity. The crib and the tree: precious symbols, which hand down in time the true meaning of Christmas.”

So as we come to the end of a truly memorable year we look forward to a church full of beautiful trees, many no doubt with ‘twinkling lights’, trees which will bring us joy and prepare us to welcome Christ the Light of the World into our hearts this Christmastide. For me Christmas really begins at the Crib Service on Christmas Eve during which we sing: ‘O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, your beauty green will teach me, that hope and love will ever be, the way to joy and peace for me. O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, your beauty green will teach me.’

The hope and love to which the Christmas tree witnesses is due wholly to the coming into our world of Christ the Cornerstone on whom the whole of our anniversary year has been based.

May I wish you all a very happy and blessed Christ-Mass.

Fr. John

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