High Street,
Essex CO7 6DE

Dedham and Ardleigh Parishes Office at The Assembly Rooms
Tel: 01206 322136
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View from the Vicarage

December 2016

Thank you to those of you who were able to attend my licensing recently, and to all the people who worked so hard to make the service such a meaningful occasion. It's great to be here!

Do you like parties? Christmas is a party.

Specifically, it's a birthday party — for Jesus — and birthdays are meant to be celebrated. It's why we say "Merry Christmas!" What are you going to celebrate this Christmas? That you've made it through another year.... that you will be at home with family.....that you'll be getting an extra bonus.......that you've still got a job and a home....... or maybe you'll find it hard to celebrate because you are just managing to survive. Preparing for Christmas can be a lot of work, especially for parents. With the pressure of buying gifts, sending greeting cards, decorating our homes, putting up lights, cooking, attending parties, and cleaning up afterward, we may have little time to actually enjoy the meaning of Christmas.

The first purpose of Christmas is celebration! We learn this from the angel's opening statement to the shepherds of Bethlehem in the Christmas story. God had wonderful news for us that would cause us all to rejoice, celebrate, and throw a party:

"I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." The good news of Christmas is worth celebrating for three reasons. It is personal: "I bring YOU." It is positive: "GOOD news of great joy." And it is universal: "for ALL the people." It doesn't matter who you are, what you've done, where you've been, or where you're headed — this news is for you. It's the best news in the world:

God loves you!God is with you!
God is for you!
Christmas is a time to celebrate that God loves you!

The most famous statement in the Bible is Jesus' explanation of why God sent him to earth: "God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."

The entire reason for Christmas is the love of God. God loves you so much that he came to earth as a human so you could get to know him and learn to trust him and love him back. Theologians call this the Incarnation. God became one of us, a human being, so we could understand what he is really like. Come and join us at any of the services over the Christmas period, both here and in our sister parish of Ardleigh - there's something for everyone and for all ages.

You are most welcome.

Rev Antony Wilson

The Vicar
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