Twenty years ago we learned we were going to have a second child, ten years after our first. We were serving churches in Northamptonshire and had got used to the idea of being a single child family. So had our churches. 

Then, out of the blue, came the surprising news we were going to be parents again. How to break it to our congregations? Forgive me for this but I decided to pass on the news and have some fun at the same time.

With Christmas approaching, I sat down to write a Christmas message for our magazine. I questioned how it must have been for Mary when the Angel Gabriel paid her a visit. This was a life-changing moment as she was given the completely unexpected news that she was going to have a baby. How must she have been feeling? Then on to our big reveal as I noted that, whatever she was feeling, we were feeling it as well. We, too, were facing something huge (at our age) and unexpected. 

For most of us, the joy of Christmas lies in the expected. We love to hear the familiar story of angels and shepherds; wise men; Mary and Joseph and a baby in the manger. We watch enthralled as our children act it out for us. We rejoice in carols that were sung by our parents and their parents and their parents’ parents. A large part of the magic of a British Christmas is that sense of nostalgia, that here we have something that has been passed down through the generations. It delivers because it is as expected.

So let me pray that this Christmas may also bring something of the unexpected with it. Not a miracle pregnancy – unless, of course, that’s what you’re looking for! But a real sense of hope and promise where you are perhaps lacking it. And a glimpse of the complete and utter love God has for you that led to him sending us Jesus. Or a meeting with Jesus, who is not confined to the past as the child in the manger but is always there to be found by those who want to know him.

If you are able to make it to any of our Christmas events, I would love to introduce myself to you. We have candlelit carols on the Monday before Christmas (18 December) at 7pm. Then on Christmas Eve morning there will be an opportunity to reflectively ‘walk through’ the Christmas story with a short service at 10.30am. This is followed by carol singing in the precinct at 7pm led by all of the Capel churches. Last but most certainly not least, on Christmas morning, we shall be celebrating at the earlier time of 9.30am. If I don’t see you at one of those events (and even if I do!), I hope and pray you have a Happy Christmas, full of joy and blessing.

Minister Rev Steve Mann (Minister at Capel Methodist Church)
8 Roundridge Rd, Capel St Mary, Ipswich, IP9 2UG
Email: irmaminister@methodistic.org.uk / 01473 311 178