December 2018 – January 2019


Dear Everyone,

Hymns are ever so important. They are often better at expressing Christianity – not too many words, and they rhyme!

As a student I listened to lots of learned lectures and read learned books; all very intellectual, but singing our faith is something else.

For example one of the most complex beliefs of Christians is the Incarnation, a word which means Christ assumed our human nature: “and was made man” as we say (and sing) in the Creed.

Our brains can’t easily comprehend text, but try singing it:
“He came down to earth from heaven
Who is God and Lord of all …”
“And he feeleth for our sadness
And he shareth in our gladness…”

When I ‘ve had to conduct a funeral on the edge of Christmas I’ve quoted these lines, hoping they might help the family to feel that their grief and the truth of Christmas really do connect.

Ironically, in many households family tensions can sometimes surface over Christmas.  When I was small we spent Christmas with my cousin Corinne and her parents.  She often got the better of me. She was 2 years older than me, and she still is. That Christmas morning we were put in her parents’ bed to deal with our presents.  Risky you might think and you’d be right.  Fighting broke out: we’d each been given identical Rupert Bear Christmas Annuals, but whose was whose?  I sometimes remind her of this in case she’s forgotten that nineteen-forties’ Christmas morning.  Now of course I miss her – she lives in Canada, so news from Up Hatherley and the Reddings will reach Vancouver this year as I’m sending her our parish magazine.

A very Happy Christmas to everyone who reads this letter, and I hope the deep wonder of the birth of Jesus Christ touches your innermost heart and being, and mine too.

Graham Bryant

(One of the priests helping out as we wait for a new vicar)