Rector's December Letter

Dear Friends

By the time you read this, St John’s Church will be full of Christmas trees celebrating the various clubs and societies in the village. Charlton Horethorne will be decorating a tree with keys and swords to represent St Peter and St Paul especially for the festival.

From as far back as we have record, people in northern Europe decorated their dwellings at midwinter with evergreens such as holly, ivy, laurel and yew. In fact, Pope Gregory the Great, around the year 600, instructed missionaries to tolerate such customs and dedicate them to Christ. So, for example, holly can remind us of Christ with its prickly leaves (crown of thorns) and red berries (blood).

According to one legend, Saint Boniface was sent into Germany in the 8th century as a missionary. He was said to have come across a group of pagans worshipping an old oak tree. Horrified by what he saw as blasphemy, St Boniface hacked down the tree. Some say that a fir tree grew spontaneously in the oak's place. He is reported to have said,

“This little tree shall be your Holy Tree tonight. It is the tree of peace for your houses are built of the fir. It is the sign of endless life for its leaves are evergreen. See how it points toward the heavens? Let this be the tree of the Christ Child. Gather about it, not in the wilderness, but in your homes. There it will be surrounded by loving gifts and rites of kindness.”

The Christmas tree, then, with its dark green branches and forest fragrance, its garlands and lights and bright adornments, comes into our homes in the dead of winter as a symbol of life and a sign of hope.

Rev Sarah

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