Christmas 2020

Dear Friends

What a year! As we celebrated Christmas at St Matthew’s last year, and as we journeyed into the new year with the joy and hope our Alpha Course, none of us could have foreseen what would happen from March onwards. I am sure many will speak of 2020 being a year to forget. Yet the reality of this year is that it will in fact be one which people will especially remember.

It will be remembered due to the sadness, hardship, grief and anxiety which so many people have encountered and endured. It will also be remembered as a year of dedicated service, care and compassion of frontline workers across the country, the coming together of local communities, the sustaining of scattered church communities, and millions of simple acts of loving kindness from one person to another.

In the Bible, in his letter to the churches in Galatia, Paul says, ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.’

Amidst the cacophony of life and in contrast to an all too frequent culture of judgmentalism and competition, it seems to me that living life God’s way has more than shown itself in 2020, to be the true way to know and experience ‘life in all its fullness’. Comfort and Joy come from knowing that we are loved by God, and living out his purposes in the world, sustained and encouraged by the Hope that Jesus Christ brings. It is His ways we see in the fruit of the Spirit, and I am more convicted than ever about God’s redeeming love for our world.

With this in mind, I want to thank all of you at St Matts—established church friends, new friends and colleagues, and all those walking with us, for your love, care, patience and forbearance in the past nine months. Due to a worldwide pandemic, focus and direction in life may at times feel confused and uncertain. But there remains one undeniable certainty—that ‘Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’ (Philippians 2:11Open Link in New Window).

As we re-focus for 2021, I encourage you to look again to the source of all life and meaning. ‘For in Him we live, and move and have our being.’ (Acts 17:28Open Link in New Window). Continue to live out those acts of loving kindness—fruit of the Spirit, and proclaim Jesus Christ with confidence. Pray for our Alpha Online, starting on 13th January 2021, and who you could invite to find the love of Jesus for themselves.

The theologian Karl Barth said, ‘In God alone is there faithfulness and faith in the trust that we may hold to him, to his promise, and to his guidance. To hold to God is to rely on the fact that God is there for me, and to live in this certainty.’

I wish you comfort and joy in Jesus Christ, this Christmas and in the new year to come.

Rev Ian Tomkins, Vicar

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