The Vicar’s Letter – December 2108

Dear friends,

A number of years ago I was struck by a song by the Christian artist Faith Hill, entitled “A baby changes everything”

Teenage girl, much too young
Unprepared for what’s to come
A baby changes everything

Not a ring on her hand
All her dreams and all her plans
A baby changes everything

The man she loves she’s never touched
How will she keep his trust?
A baby changes everything

She has to leave, go far away
Heaven knows she can’t stay
A baby changes everything

She can feel He’s coming soon
There’s no place, there’s no room
A baby changes everything

gather ’round
(Up above the star shines down) star shines down
(A baby changes everything)

Choir of angels sing
Glory to the newborn King
A baby changes everything

Everything, everything, everything

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

My whole life has turned around
I was lost but now I’m found
A baby changes everything, yeah
A baby changes everything

Most of us can empathise with the way in which a baby changes everything in our own lives, even if we try and find ways of minimising their disruptive influence. Our lives have to change and our hearts enlarge as we focus our love and care on a new-born babe. It is the start of an amazing journey which sees a totally reliant babe grow up into all that is invested in them. We place so many of our hopes and dreams as well as our aspirations and ambitions on our children. Not least we hope that our children will live in safety and be protected from some of the challenges we face ourselves.

But Faith Hill, following many Christian authors and song-writers before her, looks through the eyes of Mary and sees that her life is utterly changed by this particular baby, the saviour of the world.

We live in a world where many of us wonder, ‘What is the plot? Where do I fit in to the narrative? What is the point of my story?’ We may not verbalise it very often, but we spend a lot of time seeking happiness which often proves elusive or short-lived. At a point in the political life of our country, where so much has unravelled and nobody is articulating a new vision, we find ourselves disillusioned. It is precisely into the mess, into the evil and injustice, into the pain, into the power of the rich, that Jesus came and still comes. He comes to transform and enlighten the darkness, he comes to give hope to the lost. He longs to open our hearts to the reality that we are in fact made in the image of God. While humanity’s mantra is survival of the fittest, God’s mantra is hope for the poorest, hope for the unloved, hope for those addicted or in debt.

Christmas is about baby Jesus, but it always looks towards a new reality. The baby does change everything for Mary and Joseph, for the shepherds, the kings, but ultimately, he offers to change our hearts too. In another part of the Bible we are told The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

This is a great explanation for Advent. We are waiting as a pregnant mother waits, not with despondency, but with ever-deepening joyful anticipation. I hope in the weeks ahead you may sense that God has something to say to you in the arrival of Jesus; something to bring you hope. A word of healing, a word of restoration, a word to crack open our hard hearts because this baby does truly change everything. If you want to find out more about this life-changing Jesus why don’t you come along to our Jesus Shaped People course starting on the last Sunday of January.

Will you let God change your life this Christmas? May you seek and come to know God’s gift for you.

Every blessing

Alastair