By the Rt Revd Dr Edward Condry, Bishop of Ramsbury
As we go to press, Bishop Ed’s attempt at the indoor rowing world record for 60-65 year old men is about to take place. He will start rowing at 6 am on Friday 20 November in Warminster. A Parisian rower has just shattered the previous record of 17 hours by staying in the seat for an incredible 24 hours, making Ed’s task considerably more challenging (read more here).
The record attempt is in aid of the Community Foundation's Surviving Winter campaign. Ed aims to raise £5000 and you can donate by clicking here.
The true meaning of the Birth of Christ has been revealed. Yes, the John Lewis Christmas advert has arrived.
Last year a penguin skidded down snow slopes. This year a little girl looks through a telescope at an Old Man in the Moon and sends her loving gift wrapped present across the loneliness of the universe, floating upwards on balloons. It’s not a bad message but it isn’t quite what the Gospel ordered.
Churches have this struggle every year. The Christmas trees are up in the High Street again, and the lights are about to be turned on as I write this. Soon every shop will be filled with piped carols. Do you go with the culture and celebrate Christmas on the High Street? Or do you deny it, buying your worthy presents from organic Fairtrade shops?
Some go even further in their desire to distance themselves from the secular world, and refuse to sing carols until Christmas Day when the event itself has passed.
I have a friend who goes so far as to refuse to eat satsumas before Advent Sunday!
For myself, I am a both/and kind of person. I love the streets filled with people, and the stars in lights above. If everyone wants to sing about Jesus, there has to be good in it somewhere.
And after all, this is the churches’ prime time for people to come. Crib services, Carol services, Christingles, Midnights: all will be full. So let us celebrate as the worlds of faith and commerce somehow collide.
And at the same time, remember the poor, the refugee, the lonely, the sick, the grieving. For, as the Bidding Prayer for Nine Lessons says, this would delight His heart.
Oh, and organic Fairtrade shops are really good, and full of excellent presents. Go there.