From the Priest in Charge

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Fr Kevin

A warm welcome to the parish of St Katherine with St Nicholas, Southbourne on Sea.

Please take some time to look around our website, which hopefully will give you an insight into our church family.

We are always delighted to hear from people, so if there is anything you need to know that is not on the website, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch, and we will see if we can answer your question. Visitors to the church are always welcome, and I do encourage you to come and look around our churches and to join us for worship. Both churches have a deep spirituality, and many people value spending time in them.

As a parish we seek to engage with our local community, and to show them the love of Jesus Christ in both word and action.

Access to the church for prayer or quiet reflection can be arranged by contacting Fr Kevin.

You will always be very welcome,

Fr Kevin

Open your gift

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9. 6-7 (NKJV)

As we approach Christmas and remember God’s gift to the world of himself in Jesus Christ, I was reminded the other day about a gift a friend had been given. A big fan of the Star Wars films, he had been given by his parents a scale model kit of the Millennium Falcon (for those not into Star Wars, that’s one of the spaceships in the films), and I remember him being overjoyed when he received it. A cause for great celebration, he proudly put the box on his mantelpiece with the kit inside, for all to see. For him it was such a wonderful gift, and such a wise choice by his parents.

Some considerable time later, perhaps even a year or so, I enquired of him how his model making had gone and if the treasured item was all assembled and complete, and perhaps standing resplendent on a mount somewhere in his home. I had been imagining him sat there with his model glue and paints, painstakingly spending hours reading the instructions and putting the little pieces together. I have to say, I was anxious to see the finished product.

But what happened to that wonderful gift, so prized, so cherished, and so celebrated? Well, this is what happened. When I asked what happened to the gift, my friend just shrugged. “Oh that thing!” he said. He continued: “Well, you see once I unwrapped it, I had a look inside the box. There must have been a thousand parts in there, and as for the instruction manual, well, it was so long it was like a bible. No, too much effort, and I don’t haven’t time for that. It’s still in its box at home. I do occasionally show it to people though because it is a great gift”.

A great gift, but one sadly unused. A gift if would seem that is wheeled out occasionally for people to look at, but actually is just too much effort to put together. Sadly, I think had he undergone the process of building that ship, no matter how hard and at times frustrating it might have been, he would have had something far more wonderful than he would have realised. A labour of love, patience, and for him something special, personal and beautiful.

I suspect some of you may have already picked up why I have recounted this story, and why I have shared it as we are about to celebrate Christmas. Today for many in the world, the gift of Christ to the world is wheeled out every December to much applause and celebration. The cozy image of the infant Jesus nestled in clean and unblemished straw pulls at our heart strings. The fact that the surroundings were probably dirty and smelly, and the journey to Bethlehem had been horrendous are glossed over as people embrace the Christmas Card image and celebrate on Christmas Day.

But just like that model kit still in the box, that gift to us of the Christ needs to be unwrapped. We need to engage with Jesus and not leave him in the crib. We need to read the instruction manual for Christian living and life itself, the Holy Bible. We need in our journey of faith to have patience, work through the bad times, and to build a relationship with Christ that will allow that gift of himself in our lives to blossom. We need to let Christ grow in our hearts, and let him be who he is, God incarnate and forgiver of our sins, and not keep him tucked away in the manger.

It is said that at Christmas, of all the times in the long year, that people open their closed hearts to God and even for perhaps just a moment allow him to peek inside. Let’s pray that for some, indeed as many as possible, that this year there will be those who don’t just leave the gift in the box, but actually unwrap it, embrace it, and build something far more wonderful than a Christmas image – a living and vibrant relationship with the Risen Lord, that changes not just hearts, but entire lives.

Have a truly blessed and very Merry Christmas, and a wonderful New Year,

Father Kevin