Message from the chaplain - 01 December 2017

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!”

Luke 2:8-14

As we begin Advent – the season in which we prepare our hearts to receive the Christ-child anew at Christmas – this Advent Sunday (3 December), we cast our minds over the year that has passed since last Christmas. Much has taken place, both in the life of the school, the individual girls and staff members and their families, as well as the wider community that is our country. Some events we celebrated; others have caused us concern.

Each time I read the story of Christ’s birth, I am struck by how unexpected so much of the story is. A child – the Saviour of the world born as a helpless babe – is born and placed in an animals’ feeding trough. The angel announces Christ’s birth not to religious leaders or political rulers, but to shepherds. The shepherds, all too aware that the dark of the night brought with it the threat of predators and thieves, must have had the fright of their lives upon seeing an angel. God takes us all by surprise.

Christmas is God’s reminder to us that because of that first Christmas, God is with us in unexpected ways: God is in all. In the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”

We are in God’s presence, therefore, as we consider the happenings of the year gone by. With God, let us reflect: how has every one of these events helped prepare us to see Christ anew in each other? How has God worked within us, through what has been, to prepare us to receive what Christ has still to do through us and in us?

To all in our St Mary’s School community, I wish you and those you love a blessed Advent, and a wonderful Christmas.

Revd Claudia Coustas