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Pastoral Letter

From the Rector - The Reverend Geoffrey Smith

1 December 2018

10 years ago on Christmas Day, a group of some thirty officers and men of the British Army travelled to France to play a football match against a team from the German army. They met at a place called Frelinghien, near Armentieres, and they there re-enacted the day-long armistice and truce that their soldier predecessors had made during the first Christmas of WW1. They also erected a memorial to the war-dead and together went to visit the war graves of that district. It was an act of remembrance that saluted the bravery of the fallen, and the triumph of the human spirit over the folly and the cruelty that so often blight our lives.
The incident they were recalling took place on Christmas Day 1914 with the war only five months old and with people having spoken about being “being home for Christmas”. Yet there they were stuck in trenches in freezing weather and thinking of home and loved ones. The carol ‘Silent Night’ was heard coming from the German lines and the Brits responded with ‘Good King Wenceslas’. An unarmed German officer appeared in no man’s land and soon they were all out exchanging beer and plum pudding and playing football.
The Christmas following, in 1915, this would not be possible. Too many lives had been lost and too much bitterness entered the soul.
On the night that Jesus was born, the message of great joy proclaimed by the angels was meant to be shared by all people. It was for the whole human race. Shepherds heard it first, soldiers, in their trenches, were to hear it later. Now it is our turn.
The Christmas truce of 1914 was all too quickly over. The killing restarted on Boxing Day. But those soldiers knew the truth. They knew that their situation was a lie. They knew that human foolishness had sent them to those trenches. The singing of that carol ‘Silent Night’ in the cold air of a French field proclaimed the true meaning of life and the true worth of every human being.
You may well feel that the world needs once again to hear the message of the angel: “Do not be afraid. Listen. Today a saviour has been born for you”.



6.30 pm Sunday 16th December - Carols by Candlelight at St John the Baptist, Ripe.

6.30 pm Sunday 23
rd December - Carols by Candlelight at All Saints, Laughton

5.30 pm
Christmas Eve Monday 24th December - Gift Service at St John the Baptist, Ripe

11.30 pm
Christmas Eve Monday 24th December - Midnight Service & Carols, St John the Baptist, Ripe

8.30 am
Christmas Day Tuesday 25th December - Holy Communion at St Bartholomew, Chalvington

10.30 am
Christmas Day Tuesday 25th December - Family Communion & Carols at All Saints, Laughton

10.30 am Sunday 30
th December - Holy Communion & Carols at Deanland Social Centre