From the Parish Priest

 

“Christmas Stories”

John Lewis, (the department store of choice for my late wife, who would gladly have left me for him if given the chance) is reported to have spent £7 m on its advertising campaign for Christmas. Craig Inglis ( Lewis’s customer director and marketing chief) says, “People at Christmas want to be engaged in stories.”

Well now, there’s a thing. I don’t have seven million pounds to spend, but I do know fine well how crucial stories are.  Jesus spent most of his ministry going around telling people stories and seeking a response, “What do you think……?” is the question that underlies the parables.

And, of course, the same is true today. Films, plays, novels, comedians, TV dramas all use the medium of story to grab our attention and then, at least the best of them, get us to rethink what we thought and broaden our understanding as a result. Stories entertain but they can also challenge and reform. The Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, The Rich man and Lazarus – these still provoke and unsettle our contented attitudes and beliefs.

This is just as true of the Christmas stories in the Bible too. The birth in the stable, the apparent poverty of Mary and Joseph, the humble shepherds as well as the wisemen – all these guide us to an appreciation of just how the humility of God in Jesus is to be understood. Of course we can doubt the stories, and St Mark’s and St John’s Gospels both manage without any birth stories at all.  But  surely we would be the poorer if we abandoned them altogether.

The man from John Lewis gets it right ( and I am writing this before the advertisement has been broadcast), stories are  central and we need them. But I will wager that the  7 million pound advert will have nothing like the magic of seeing the children of Ovingdean Nursery School perform their nativity, or indeed of the services in St Wulfran’s on Christmas Eve.

 

An early wish for Peace and Joy for you this Christmas

Peter Wolfenden


From the Parish Priest
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