On Thursday November 15th, the nation waited impatiently for a much-anticipated event. I’m not referring of course to the proposed deal on Brexit, but to the release of the John Lewis advert. For those of you who may not have seen the advert, it recalls the memories of the singer Elton John as he achieves musical success. The advert ends with the moment his career began when, as a little boy, he received his grandmother’s piano for his Christmas present. The strapline of the advert is ‘Some gifts are more than just a gift’.

Watching the advert with Mark, my husband, Mark recalled the first time, aged five, that he played a piano. Mark’s early musical talent was nurtured by Mrs Walmesley, a wonderful lady, suffering with Parkinsons, who, as the illness progressed, deferred to asking her husband Mr Walmesley to demonstrate certain techniques when the disease prevented her from doing so herself. But her gift of music was more than just a gift to Mark. His love of the piano enables Mark to serve God, through worship, in a very special and individual way. And I’m sure our organists Carole, Roy and Tom would each be able to share their love of music and the piano with us.

At Christmas we celebrate a gift that is so much more than a gift. Isaiah 9:6 -7 says ‘For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’.

This year we have remembered the cessation of World War 1 in 1918, but 2018 has been far from peaceful for many people. Sadly we have seen an increase in knife crime. The numbers of people finding themselves without a home and employment has risen too, and I know many of you have found your peace disrupted through illness or the loss of loved ones. And yet amidst this, God gives us the assurance of his love and his peace. When we remember the child in the manger, we remember too the man who he became, the man who showed us how to bring hope, love, justice, peace and joy into our world.

And so, on behalf of myself, Mark, Rebecca, Alasdair, Chris, Ellie, Connor, Leana and Ezekiel, may we wish you all every Christmas blessing and may we continue to be thankful for the gift of the Christ Child,