A Christmas 2017 Address from Frank

“Good evening I expect what I am going to say may be very different from the address Peter would have given, but it is about how I see Christmas and what it means to me.

I love Christmas and to me it is the most wonderful time of the year, when I was a child I loved it because it brought me presents and chocolates and cakes which I didn‘t get all the year round, but throughout my life it has always meant a great deal to me, and to me it has always been about the coming together of family and friends to share a Christmas Dinner together and raise a glass to friends and family past and present and the exchanging of gifts. My wife Mavis always loved Christmas as much as I do and although this is our third Christmas since her passing we know that she is there with us and there is always a place at our table for her and we celebrate Christmas in the way we always did, because we know that is what she wants us to do, and yes, we raise a glass to her.

So, for many of us Christmas is a time to party, have several Christmas dinners and a good drink with work colleagues, friends from clubs we belong to and of course our friends from church, and this is fine, no one likes a party or an excuse for another Christmas dinner more than me do they.

But Christmas is about much more than that it is the time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, and listen again to the story of that first Christmas, and although we have all heard that story many time we enjoy hearing it again and we never tire of it and it is as relevant today as it was when it was written.  Throughout my life I have always enjoyed singing Carols and for many of my years I went Carol Singing with others and enjoyed spreading the work of Christmas and Jesus’s birth to other people some of which I didn’t even know, and letting them see how much joy and happiness it brought to me share it with them.  In the days when I worked unsociable hours I even booked time off so I could be there to sing the Carols.

So, tonight I want to tell you a store that I have written, it inset a true story but much of the detail in it is based on what my ancestors would have experienced had they have been in it.

I want to take you on a journey.  I would like you to go back about 100 years or more in them, and you have just been told that you need to go to the town where your family originally came from, now some of you might say well that’s ok I’ve only got to get Romford.  Well not in my case, I will have to travel nearly 400 miles to a little village in a farming community in CORNWALL.  Now it’s over 100 years ago so you don’t have a nice reliable modern car, you have something far more basic, perhaps a horse and cart if you’re lucky or maybe just the horse and Motorways have not been thought or yet so anything you might need on the journey you must take with you, no service area to stop at to get a Costa Coffee or a McDonalds Hamburger in those days.  As you start your journey the weather is deteriorating it is getting cold and it is starting to snow, the roads are rutted and full of holes and as the day wears on and darkness falls there are no lights, all you have is an old oil lamp you brought with you and you hope it has enough oil in it to last until morning when hopefully the sun will come out to warm you again, as for food well there is the break and maybe some cheese you brought from home but this must last you for the whole journey because there probably won’t be any shops or places to get a meal until you reach your destination.

By next morning your re well on your way but there’s still quite a way to go et and you have one more thing to concern you on this journey, and that is the your wife who you have had to bring with you is within days of giving birth to your first child so the journey is much more stressful and uncomfortable for her than it is for you, the worry of not knowing if you will reach your family’s village before the child is born is taking its toll on you as is tiredness and the obvious discomfort of the journey, but finally as you come down over this hols you can see the houses of the village in the distance and this is indeed a welcoming site.  when you reach the village, there are no friends or relatives here to greet you, they all left this area long lone ago.

Now you have another problem where you are going to stay there are 100s or maybe 1000s like yourself looking for accommodation, the only place you can find is an old farm house with stables and stables for cattle on the ground floor, and living quarters upstairs, a 100 years ago or more this design of farm house was quiet common because the heat generated by the animals downstairs would rise and warm the accommodation on the next floor, I expect a lot of use have on a cold night cuddled up on the sofa and our dog or cat has snuggled up to us and we’ve felt the comforting warmth of their body against us, then before you find proper accommodation your first born child enters the world in the stable, in those days you couldn’t dial 999 and get an ambulance with a midwife and two paramedics on board the only help available would be local women of the village who could offer help based on their own experiences.

Now let’s think for a moment about this story and go back this time 2000 years when Joseph and Mar made a journey very much like this in very similar circumstances and as we all know there was no room in the Inn and Jesus was born in a stable rule like the child in my story.  In a strange way I can relate very much to both stories.  On the day my son was born, I was awoken at 4am by my wife Mavis and she said I think the baby is coming and i drove through the snow and cold to get her to the hospital, fortunately there was one about a mile away so we were much luckier than the people in my story and certainly much luckier than Joseph and Mary.

Today most of us in in much better circumstances, although we all know that is not true in all parts of the world and indeed many people in particular the Middle East, don’t live much better than they did 2000 years ago and many still fear for their lives so when we are tucking in to our Christmas dinner and raising a glass of wine or a glass of beer let’s just pause for a moment and give thought to those less fortunately than ourselves and send them your love.

When Jesus was born, Wise men bought him expensive presents this year no doubt, but shepherds also visited him and their gifts were much humbler than the wise men’s and so the story of Christmas teaches us many things, that it doesn’t matter how humble out beginnings are, we are all the same whether we or our families are rich or poor.  The gifts we give and receive at Christmas symbolises those given to Jesus 2000 years ago and it’s not about their value or their size, it’s about the love that comes with them and the pleasures of giving it gives to those who bring them.  Now gifts don’t have to just be the material things of life, the spiritual things are just as important, so on Christmas Day send thoughts and prayers of love and healing to all those in need throughout the world.”

– An Address given by Frank White December 2017