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Welcome To Sian's Message Page

Dear Friends,

I don't know about you but as soon as Christmas Day is over, I'm looking for the first signs of spring! For me the Christmas season ends on Christmas Day and I find myself looking ahead to the next high point, which is springtime, the season that spills over with hope and promise. The shortest day is always an unavoidable and stark reminder of winter and the fact that the days seems to get even shorter after the winter solstice, this year on 21st December, sometimes means that looking for signs of spring can be like looking for a needle in a haystack

Winter can be dreary and seemingly endless, the human soul and body long for a diversion, for something to lift the gloom and the church is ready to provide it. In the space of 2 months there are no less than 4 major festivals and, depending on what you include, that's at least 50% of the festivals in about 15% of the year: the festivals are Advent, Christmas, Epiphany and Candlemas. All of them are times when we can fully engage with our faith and focus on what each means: preparation; incarnation of God as man; realisation & thankfulness. Interestingly Candlemas, is not only about Mary & Joseph's thankfulness for their baby son, its also about our thankfulness that finally the days are beginning to lengthen. It's no accident that Candlemas is celebrated on February 2, exactly the mid-way point between the shortest day and the Spring equinox.

In former days, these Christian festivals would have provided just the lift that people needed in the darkness of winter because all used to be celebrated with far greater commitment and engagement than we see today. Twelfth night for example, marking the end of the 12 days of Christmas, falls at Epiphany and it was a time of great revelry and feasting, now long gone. These days we have so many different ways to divert ourselves away from the bleakness of winter and the church has paid the price for that. I wonder how much the feasts, festivals, parades and processions of the church's yesteryear kept people more mindful of faith because there was always something else to look forward to and another 'holy day' (holiday) just around the corner! Christian hope and assurance were never far away, all bound up as they were with the next day off, the next celebration.

Of course we can still participate in the winter festivals, Epiphany and Candlemas still to come as you read this, Lent and Easter are on the horizon and if we are feeling low and gloomy, we have only to look at the nearest bare tree branch and count the buds with all their promise and go to our nearest snowdrop patch to see the first leaves pushing their way through solid ground, to be reminded that Spring really is on its way, just as God intended

Revd Sian