Fourth Sunday of Advent – 24.12.17
Christmas day is a Holy Day of Obligation
Crib Collection during the Christmas Season for Catholic Children’s Society Arundel & Brighton Crisis Fund
Dear Brothers and Sisters
The Fourth Sunday of Advent brings us face to face with the central Christian message – that God chose to come to us and “dwell” with us. “Almighty” God became a little child in a humble stable in order to save us from ourselves and in doing so to show us what it is that makes us most human. That thing is love.
The readings today are really about a temple. For the Jewish people the temple was God’s address here on earth; a place where one could be sure of finding God and receiving an audience. The first reading speaks of David desiring to complete his kingdom by building a temple for the Lord. Nathan reminds him that, even if this were to be desirable, had he forgotten that in all his troubles and campaigns his God had always been close to him?
The Gospel continues this theme – only this time it is God himself who will build a temple – in the womb of the Virgin Mary and she will be the new temple of the Lord. At least until His birth when once again God will be close to his people – not in tablets of stone carried around in an ark containing the Law but in the person of Jesus.
Jesus is God’s gift of his God-self to us. It reveals his desire to be wherever his people are. If you have been following the readings we have had over the last few weeks from Isaiah you will recognise that in Jesus God has come to “comfort his people”; to “console them”; to “say” to His people that their time of service (to what or who?) is over. A new beginning is upon them.
Yet sitting here in 2017 with so much division in our own society, so many problems of justice and equality around the world; so much poverty and violence; so many threats to peace and security you could be forgiven for wondering why? What difference has the birth of Jesus made?
Well, it can be a struggle, I know. But countless men and women though the ages have found in this simple story of Christ’s humble birth not only inspiration, but a kind of strength, to counter the prevailing ills of society and the world. Taking courage from the belief that God cares enough about us to “pitch his tent” (literally what “Tabernacle” means) with us and to take the risk of living life among us sharing the same challenges, restrictions, hopes and fears that we all do, these people have changed
the world – and for the better. Think of Martin Luther King. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. St Francis of Assisi. St Anthony of Egypt. Therese of Liseiux. Those are the poster men and women. But what about our parents in faith? Or ordinary women and men for whom this fact that God chose a human body as his temple and lived our life; our kind of life became their benchmark and reason for living and struggling against evil.
The Christmas story is and will always be ever old and ever new. Touching and inspiring – inviting us to put away cynicism and scepticism and enter into a simple joy that Christ was born in Bethlehem on Christmas night. The angels sang for joy. The shepherds came and saw. The stable sharing animals adored, each in their own way. The magi travelled from afar to “see this thing that has come to pass”. Can we not also travel, in our minds and hearts, to the stable to join the faithful man Joseph and his young bride to be, Mary, and wonder at this thing that God has chosen to do. This thing that was so unexpected, so amazing, so divine. I hope we all can and be inspired by doing so.
I wish you all and your families a very merry, and holy, Christmas and pray for God’s blessing upon you and all whom you love this Christmas time and always.
With my love and prayers. Fr David
To Father David Osborne, and all at Cranleigh and Bramley Churches
Please accept my thanks for the fantastic donation from your very generous congregations of £1032.65 received this evening – £752.65 in cash and £280 in tokens. It’s a fantastic amount so please do thank everybody who gave. We will give your Christmas cards to our residents on Christmas morning each containing a £10 Friary Centre voucher and a £10 cinema ticket which they are not expecting and I know will make a real difference over the festive period. The Friary Centre has since increased these vouchers to £15 and a parishioner also donated 4 Odeon cinema tickets to the cause, for which we are very grateful.
The money you have so kindly donated is to be kept for New Year’s Eve when staff will use some of it to order in a takeaway and treats for everyone of their choice – either pizza or curry is normally their vote but maybe this year it’ll be Chinese? With the money left over, we save for birthdays that crop up throughout the year and spend on small gifts such as mobile phone top –ups (as they never have enough credit) or book or food tokens.
Needless to say every penny will be spent directly on our residents, for which they will be, and I am, extremely grateful.
Thank-you all once again to everybody who gave for your generosity, we really do appreciate it.
Kindest regards and Merry Christmas
Some gentle reminders….
The Parish Office will be closed from Friday 22nd December 3pm reopening Friday 29th December 9-12pm. Father David will also be taking a few days off between Tuesday 26th December and Friday 29th December.
Finance Appeal – have you returned an updated Standing Order form to Trish yet? Have you thought about joining the Gift Aid Scheme if you pay tax and are not yet a member? If you do the Chancellor gives us an extra 25% at no extra cost to you. See Trish for further info.
Parish Mission – Have you returned your questionnaire yet? Or even looked at it? Can I urge you to, please, as not only are your opinions important to us and the Bishop, but the fact that you are thinking about the mission and life of the Church, and your part in it, will be a great advantage to us.
Registered with us? – Are you new (or old) to the parish but have not given us your details? Make a note to yourself to tell us about yourself in the new year once Christmas has quietened down a bit. It really does help us communicate with you, visit you, and know who’s who in the Parish.
What is your New Year resolution?
Why not help to make a difference in the fight against poverty and injustice by volunteering for CAFOD?
CAFOD, The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, are currently looking for volunteers to help them in their work. They are many ways to get involved such as in local schools, the parish, in their office (Wonersh or Aldershot), raising issues with our MPs and more.
If you would like more information or feel that you could help CAFOD make a difference then please contact Martin on 01483 898866 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
BRAMLEY MUSIC CONCERTS IN 2018
Saturday 3rd February at 7pm
A Celebration of Friendship – Danae Eleni (soprano), Kimon Pallikaropoulos (piano) and Edward Saklatvala (tenor), in support of Dan’s Fund for Burns.
Saturday 17th March at 7pm
A Grand Night Out – Concert by young disabled adults from the charity the Orpheus Centre, with Sir Richard Stilgoe.
Saturday 21st April at 7pm
Royal College of Music Concert –a piano recital by RCM graduate Varvara Tarasova.
Saturday 16th June at 7pm
The Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford.
Saturday 8th September at 7pm
2018 Celebrity Concert – world famous concert pianist John Lill returns to Bramley.
Saturday 13th October at 7pm
From Agincourt to Ilkley Moor – a talk by Adrian Leak with musical illustrations by Josephine Leak.
Saturday 17th November at 7pm
100 Years On – an Armistice Concert with Richard Saxel and friends, to mark the anniversary of the end of the First World War.
If you’d like to know more, please contact Stuart White – 01483 902645 or email@example.com (apart from in relation to the Orpheus concert, where enquiries should be directed to the Parish Office on 01483 890042 / firstname.lastname@example.org).
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means “God is with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
Wishing you a happy and Holy Christmas
Thank you for your prayers and support
during the year
and our very Best Wishes for the coming Year
The Team at Heaven’s Road Catholic Online Radio
St John’s Seminary, Wonersh,
Guildford, Surrey GU5 0QX
For our Christmas schedule visit http://www.heavensroadfm.com/schedule/