President’s Blog: 19th December 2022
Christmas will soon be upon us and wherever I go people are asking ‘Are you ready for Christmas?’ I wonder what they really mean. Do they mean: Have you decorated your house and bought all your presents and wrapped them? Or do they mean, Have you invited all the guests and prepared the food? My answer is usually ‘No, but I will be ready by midnight on Christmas Eve!’ Advent is a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus and we need to be ready to receive him into our hearts.
Michael, my husband, collects Nativity scenes and we usually bring one back from the places we visit on holiday. However, he has always wanted a wooden, hand carved Nativity. While we were in Oberammergau, this summer, we saw some beautifully carved Nativity scenes. There is a wood carving school in the village, where craftsmen pass on their traditional skills to the next generation and there are many shops that sell their beautifully made figures. Walking from the village to our hotel to collect our luggage, we came upon a delightful shop where the wood carver was busy at work. The little shop was crammed with the most beautifully crafted Nativity scenes of all sizes, so we decided to buy one. But which one to choose? We were spoilt for choice! Eventually, Michael decided on one that we hoped would fit in our suitcase. The wood carver’s wife took great care in wrapping each individual figure, including the donkey and the sheep, in bubble wrap but when we came to pay with our card, her face dropped as they could only accept cash. Reluctantly we left them unwrapping each figure. We were all disappointed, but we decided that we had just got time to run back to the village to the cash machine.
When we returned to the shop, we were met with beaming faces! As the lady began to wrap the figures again, we realised that there were no shepherds in the set; there was a sheep and a lamb but no shepherd! The carver was so pleased that we had returned that he found a shepherd in his workshop and gave it to us as a present. By this time, we were in danger of keeping our fellow pilgrims waiting so I ran on to the hotel, which was a lot further than I thought! As I turned into the grounds, there was Michael – the wood carver had given him a lift!
We thought the nativity set was complete but when we opened it a few days ago, we discovered that the shepherd was missing! We have still to find him, but the baby Jesus is there and lying in a manger. Will we be ready for Christmas? – I hope so by midnight on Christmas Eve!
‘For unto us a son is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ (Isaiah9:6-7)
May the peace, hope and joy of Christmas be with you today and always.