Advent/Christmas Greetings from Vivien

Hello from North Yorkshire to North West Leicestershire from Vivien. I’m using Christmas as a chance to touch base with you all in this year of 2021 which has been a year of enormous change for me and for many of you. I suspect we are missing each other.

    I’m getting used to living in a town after over 25 years of village life. Skipton is very much a market town and I think the population is about 16,000 – and it has a market 4 days a week. It draws people in from all round. In the better weather there would be loads of coaches coming in and emptying out their passengers so the streets get very full. People come for the market but also for the many eating places and coffee places. It is a town where you can get anything you need so I find myself going in to town to buy what I need rather than doing supermarket shopping. A stall sells brownies and flapjacks that I can’t resist. 

   The last 3 Sundays have been busy in town. First there was the Santa Fun Run with hundreds of Santas of all shapes, sizes, ages and speeds. As they set off, the snow started – seasonal but I think a bit slippery under foot for them. Then the 1st 2 Sundays of December have been Christmas market time and the place has been super crowded.    

     Skipton is built on 4 hills and walking uphill can’t be avoided wherever you go. I got practice living on Measham High Street but this is the real thing and I am getting fitter. It’s less than 10 minutes into town and so my car is hardly used these days. Skipton Castle woods are also great for a walk and right on my doorstep. I will get out into the country but I have been too tired as yet to be adventurous. When I get older and decrepit, there is a little bus that picks up right opposite me and brings you back at lunchtime – so when I can’t walk anymore....

 

 

A view of Skipton castle woods

 

 

   And from (nearly) the top of one of the hills - over Skipton

 

   The house interior is nearly finished. Here are pictures of the curtains/blinds I bought with the money you kindly gave me when I left.

                                     

With the garden voucher, I’ve bought bulbs, wallflowers and now a bird feeding station. Plus have been watching a lot of television (alongside reading and knitting).

    Now we seem to be in the waiting game again. What will the government say we can (or can’t) do due to Covid this Christmas?

   Waiting has been my theme for most of the time since I retired, waiting on God. A very Advent theme – Advent being the time when we wait for Christ to be born in Bethlehem again, for Christ to come in the now and for Christ to come at the end of time when all will be made well. As a working cleric, I have never managed to keep Advent as that waiting time: we were always straight into the busyness of Christmas and carols and so forth. This year I am simply an ordinary punter in the pews of the local parish church.  These weeks (as well as being challenging) have been gift. Time to be with Jesus in new and deeper ways. More time to savour the gift who is Jesus, rather than ‘things’ he gives us.   

   The Christmas of the advertisers and media pretty well ends on Christmas Day. We’ll then be moved on to New Year sales and summer holidays. Remember: Christmas Day is the start of the Christmas season which the church keeps until February 2nd. I wonder if we could use the difficult days of January to sit with Jesus more; to focus on him and give him good quality time. The great Christmas carol ‘O little town of Bethlehem’ has the lines; “O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray; cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today”. Jesus isn’t simply the giver of good things, the one who answers our wishes. He offers himself to us as gift. I wonder what would happen if we all open our hands to receive that gift?  I have some words from Julian of Norwich before me: “God of your goodness give me yourself for you are enough for me”.  That summarises my prayer for myself. I pray it may be yours as well. Isn’t amazing that Jesus loves us so much he came to live among us as we are, and would live amongst us still?

   In the western world, we look forward to Christmas as a time of festivities. It is also a time when we give as well as receive. On that note, you may remember Afghanistan has been much on my heart. Tearfund are inviting us to twin our fridges by giving £30. Is your fridge going to be full? How about twinning your fridge to help those in Afghanistan who have nothing? Go to https://appeals.toilettwinning.org/ for details.

   And if you want to watch a Christmas movie from ‘The Chosen’ , go to  https://watch.angelstudios.com/thechosen/watch?vid=the-chosen-shepherd-trailer-with-cta-season-1&ap=true  (and the following episodes). The Chosen is being watched by millions around the world

Vivien Elphick

PS No dog yet I’m afraid