A Letter from your Associate Priest

A necessary journey

As you may have previously read, before our last parishes in Hampshire, Graham and I spent four years living in a village called Upton Magna to the east of Shrewsbury.  In December 2010 we were gripped in the first snows of a winter that seemed to go on forever.  Although it looked beautiful, I’m not really sure I would like a repeat performance this year!  Every time we needed to go somewhere, we had to ask ourselves, is this journey necessary?  Will we get there safely?  Is it worth taking the risk?  Graham and I decided it was worth going to greet our newborn Grandson on the 16th December, Zachary had arrived a little earlier than planned and there was a lull in the snow so off we went to Salisbury.  What a beautiful sight greeted us - very proud and contented, if exhausted, parents, and one bundle of joy that seemed so small and delicate.  Had his mother really been that small?  To look at Zachary now, at nearly nine years old, it’s hard to believe he could ever have been so small!  Perhaps it was the weather that made him seem even more vulnerable.  Only too soon we had to say goodbye and start our next journey back to Shropshire.  As we got further north it became apparent that the only safe thing to do was pull off the motorway and find a safe haven until the worst snowstorm to sweep across the Midlands for many years hit.   We gingerly drove home the next morning on a very icy motorway – the M5 seemed suddenly very hilly!  For all the drama, our journey had been worth it, and we were lucky to have no mishaps.  Except maybe having to miss the Carol Service that I had prepared for the neighbouring village!  
This makes me think of another journey that would have been even more difficult and fraught with danger.  We don’t hear anything about the actual journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem that Mary and Joseph took, but I’m sure it wasn’t easy for a very heavily pregnant Mary and a worried and confused Joseph.  It was a necessary journey because they had to return to Joseph’s hometown for the census and here Mary’s baby was born.  And who made their journey to meet this new baby – proud grandparents?  There is no record to tell us that, but we do know humble shepherds and wise men from far away made the journey.  
And what of us, what journeys will we make this December?   Frantic trips to shopping malls, followed by round routes to friends and relations dropping off presents and spreading festive cheer, office parties and a trip to the pantomime.  Hopefully we will see as necessary a journey to meet with the Christ-child, maybe through one of the services going on in the village or benefice, or in the peace and quiet at home - you may be surprised to find it’s the most important journey of all. 
I wish you all a very happy and holy Christmas and a blessed and peaceful 2020.
With blessings