A Christmas story

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Christmas Mystery

Louisa M Alcott's' classic novel "Little Women", begins with the unforgettable line '"Christmas won't be Christmas without presents" grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.'

There are many other stories which are either associated with or are about Christmas that are re-read at this time of year. These range from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" By Dr Seuss to Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol", from "Olive the other reindeer" by J. Otto Seibold to Clement Clarke Moore's poem, "The Night Before Christmas" with its own famous opening line 'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse'.

I would want to add my favourite, "The Christmas Mystery" by Jostein Gaarder, in which a young boy finds a faded, home-made Advent calendar in a bookshop. Out of the first window falls a piece of paper on which is written the first part of an extraordinary story about a small girl who travels back in time to Bethlehem and the birth of Christ.

Some of our best-loved stories of this time of year are ones that were told to us when we were young and which in turn, we have told to our own children or grandchildren enabling them to become their favourite stories as well.

All of these manage to capture something of the spirit of Christmas itself. The stories are full of love and of giving, of seeking and of finding, of goodwill and of selflessness, of light and of revelation, of peace and of joy. They gladden the heart and lighten the spirit; they give us hope for the times in which we live.

Matthew and Luke, tell their own Christmas stories as well. Matthew has the Wise Men and Luke, the shepherds. Matthew reminds us of the cruelty of Herod and his soldiers, Luke, the pity and kindness of the inn-keeper.

During our Carols by Candlelight services, we will hear those familiar words once more as we make our own journeys to Bethlehem to kneel alongside those of the nativity, and with them gaze in awe and wonder at the face of God as He lies in the manger.

Matthew and Luke's stories however are about far more than gladdening the heart or lightening the spirit; they are life changing and life giving, they have the power to transform the lives of any who hear and believe them.

Their stories are the good news that so many long to hear and so many search for. Their stories once more remind us of the truth of Jesus — 'and he will be called Immanuel — (which means God is with us).'

With much love and God bless this Christmas time,

Keith

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