What’s all the fuss about?

David Smith“What’s all the fuss about”

Angels with trumpets adorning the tree,
Bells in the steeple all ringing free,

Carolling choirs helping us sing,
Drinks make the party go with a swing

Food for an army of visiting guests,
Grannies and granddads all swelling the nest,

Holly and ivy on wreaths do connect;
Icing on cakes gives the snowy effect

Kings with their camels on cards, trav’lling west
Lambs are all bleating, it’s what they do best

Mince pies by the dozen, but what of the diet?Noise all around us, nothing is quiet

Oxen are lowing, why do they do that?
Presents for everyone, even the cat!

Queueing for sales e’en before Boxing Day
Rudolph and reindeer are pulling the sleigh.

Santa is shattered with all the hard work
Toys to deliver, no time to shirk.

Useful, we hope, all our presents will be,
Visible tokens to show bon homie

What’s so important to me and to you
Xmas leaves out a significant clue

Yuletide as well, doesn’t tell the whole story.
Z is for “Zzzzzz”s, after lunch we’re all ‘snorey’

Hold on a minute – two letters astray.
Where is the “E”? Where is the “J”

Jesus came into our world for Everyone, so try to make him part of your Christmas!

by the Revd Canon David Smith, Team Rector, North Cheltenham Team Ministry.



Astonishing world of wonders

Pauline BruntAs I write this the first official UK astronaut, Major Tim Peake, has safely arrived aboard the International Space Station. The launch was spectacular and after four orbits of the Earth and six hours travel they reached the ISS. Due to complications with the automatic docking procedure the Soyuz crew, with immense skill, had to manually dock the spacecraft before boarding could take place. What an astounding feat.

Part of Major Tim’s task in space is to carry out educational projects. The launch was watched by thousands of excited school children. Schools will be following his time on the ISS and children will be able to talk to him there from their schools. What wonders of modern technology.

More astounding, however, is the view of Earth from the ISS. Apparently fewer than 600 people have actually seen Earth from space, but those who have say it is an incredibly beautiful and very emotional experience such that the reality of it is hard to grasp. What an amazing experience.

God truly created an incredible world. He made us in his image with the ability to be remarkably creative and skilled people. As Christmas fast approaches we see his amazing love for this world by sending his Son, the Saviour of the world, to be born in Bethlehem. It astonished people then and should astonish us too. What a miracle.

By the Revd Canon Philippa Brunt, Area Dean of Forest South.


May God break down barriers in us as we celebrate this Christmas

A Robert

In a recent political debate a potential American presidential candidate has suggested that all Muslims should be denied entry to the country. These are comments that have rightly been condemned by those across the political spectrum as both offensive and incomprehensible. American Muslim citizens, are as committed to the common good as are British Muslim citizens. Acts of terror areno preserve of any one race or religion.

It is of course absolutely right that our governments act to ensure our protection from those who would, for whatever reason, turn to acts of terror but as has countless of citizens have demonstrated over recent weeks it is right that we too should play our part and live not in fear but in loving and in welcoming. It is this that will drive out darkness, and it is this that we see in ‘The Word becoming flesh’ and making His home among us in the babe of Bethlehem.

Edmund Banyard has expressed this in his poem of this title. May God break down barriers in us as we celebrate this Christmas

a frail human baby born in a cattle shed –
in such a manner
God made his home among us
that we might be drawn to him
through his very defencelessness.

There were none to deny entry
to that Bethlehem stable;
no security locks,
no guards,
no barriers of any kind;
indeed, no Christ,
God came to break all barriers down.

To respond to that love
which risks all in reaching out to us
we surely must also take risks
in reaching out to others.

Risk being misunderstood;
risk having our overtures rejected
risk becoming vulnerable, defenceless.

How else
can the true Christmas message
be transmitted?
How else
can the word of peace
the word of reconciliation,
become flesh?

By the Archdeacon of Cheltenham, Robert Springett

The power of fear


The news this week has been full of the debate and vote on air strikes against IS in Syria, and violence and loss of life in so many countries. My reaction to most of this has been fear, fear of a potential spiral of violence arising from actions. I am sure that many in the countries directly affected are faced by an overwhelming fear for their own lives and for the lives of their loved ones.

For me, it will be a success for those who seek to use violence to further their cause, if we live in fear. I hope that the United Nations action can bring about an end to the fear and horror caused by this terrorism, but I fear that it may be perceived as outside aggression.

I am sure the leaders of all countries are grappling with how to ensure that these actions we are now undertaking do not become a further opportunity to radicalise and recruit people to the cause of terror. Surely we must meet violence with something more than violence in return, but with constructive “economic, diplomatic and security strategy” to use the words of other Christian churches this week. I would want to add to this that as a Christian I hope we also meet it with prayer.