“Fear less, hope more;
Eat less, chew more;
Whine less, breathe more;
Talk less, say more;
Hate less, love more;
And all good things will be yours.”
I’m not sure I would ever say ‘eat less’, I’ve certainly never adhered to such instructions at Christmas, quite the opposite! However, these poignant words by an anonymous author strike hard to what Christmas truly is about. It’s a season of hope and joy, not just a day, but 12 days to truly love more and receive blessings a hundred fold. Over the last few weeks of Advent in school we have been building up and preparing for Christmas in many different ways which give so much to others starting with the journey our own heart takes.
Last week we spent time in reflection for an Advent Reconciliation service, with so many of our students taking up the opportunity to go the sacrament of reconciliation. The main line from the music we used to reflect asks “Is there room in your heart for God to write his story”. This time of year is catnip to those who love a good story. From classic literature such as A Christmas Carol and The Night Before Christmas, to Netflix originals like Christmas Chronicle and Robin, Robin. But the most central one is that of the story of history in scripture, an entire history that culminated in the most humble beginning for the birth of the Son of God on earth.
We should try to allow this incredible moment of history re-enter our minds and hearts this Christmas as though it’s the first time we’ve ever heard all those familiar moments with the shepherds, the wise men and no room at the inn. It is this story and how it lives in our hearts which is the true spirit and meaning of Christmas.
We’ve already manifested it in so many ways of late, particularly with fundraising and charity. Yesterday was our mini Christmas Market led by sixth form students, with so much festivity, fun and laughter shared amongst students and staff. £174.90 was raised at this for Bath Welcomes Refugees and Julian House. The school Chapel has looked like a peculiar grotto the last week as hampers and presents galore have been wrapped and sorted for us to take to various charities, organisations and those in our community who appreciate the kindness of you all. Many tutor groups and staff chose to buy CAFOD World Gifts to help the poorest in the world with sustainable and worthwhile gifts such as queen bees, emergency water in a disaster, tree saplings and weatherproof crops.
Many of you joined us for our Advent Carol Services on Weds evening at St Alphege’s RC Church. Considering the pressures and restrictions musicians have had to adhere to since returning in September, we thought the students led the services beautifully. Carol services are always a special moment in the build up to the end of term and we are so glad we got to share the liturgies we prepared with many friends, family and parishioners. I’d like to personally thank Mrs Smith from St John’s and the performing arts dept here at St Gregory’s for making the evening such a moving tribute to Advent, refugees and journeying. Your kind donations in the retiring collection, in person and online, have contributed another £362.85 to Bath Welcomes Refugees and Julian House.
Our final day in school has been a Christmas Dress up MUFTI day to ensure students go into the Christmas season filled with the spirit of joy. All donations from this will be going to Save the Children’s campaign to help children around the world thrive and receive the same opportunities we all deserve. We did our best to finish the term with a virtual carol service, with some highlights from Weds evening included.
I’d love to leave you with this special Christmas version of the Creed which we used earlier today in the Carol Service, have a wonderful Christmas.
A Christmas Creed
I believe in Jesus Christ and in the beauty of the Gospel begun in Bethlehem.
I believe in the one whose spirit glorified a little town; and whose spirit still brings music to persons all over the world, in towns both large and small.
I believe in the one for whom the crowded inn could find no room, and I confess that my heart still sometimes wants to exclude Christ from my life today.
I believe in the one who the rulers of the earth ignored and the proud could never understand; whose life was among common people, whose welcome came from persons of hungry hearts.
I believe in the one who proclaimed the love of God to be invincible:
I believe in the one whose cradle was a mother’s arms, whose modest home in Nazareth had love for its only wealth, who looked at persons and made them see what God’s love saw in them, who by love brought sinners back to purity, and lifted human weakness up to meet the strength of God.
I confess my ever-lasting need of God: The need of forgiveness for our selfishness and greed, the need of new life for empty souls, the need of love for hearts grown cold.
I believe in God who gives us the best of himself. I believe in Jesus, the son of the living God, born in Bethlehem this night, for me and for the world.
Mr M Robinson