Good morning! It is 8 am on Christmas Bank Holiday Monday. Jeff has just gone back to bed after looking at a blank computer screen for two hours. After so many services in the last few days, inspiration for this letter has eluded him and Bill Ball is keen to print the Parish News (though personally I think they’re both mad to be still working over the holiday). So whilst Jeff sleeps I thought I would hijack the spot and write the letter myself!

 What a beautiful day! It is two degrees below freezing and the snow on the bushes outside the window is thick and white. Blue sky, white clouds and rosy pink sunshine. How wonderful to have a white Christmas! Astbury is such a beautiful place, it is a real privilege to live here. In the snow the Church looks like a graceful white swan nestled in the centre of the village (despite the scaffolding!)

 We have had a lovely Christmas at Church; lots of people coming to the main services and a wonderful sense of the presence of God. There is something so special about this time of year, drawing us to worship the Christ Child and to marvel at the God who has come to share our humanity. And local people, as always, have come to celebrate with us in droves. Swan-like again, with elegance, beauty and an effortless manner the Church has glided over it all... but look just below the surface and the legs are paddling like mad!

 So here is a big thank you to all the many people who have worked so hard: Flower arrangers, brass polishers and cleaners; makers of tea, coffee and cakes, bell-ringers and singers; welcomers at the door, collectors and counters of the collection. The list is very long and I could go on and on. As with the gracefully swimming Swan, the hard work is hidden. Thank you everyone. It says in the Bible ‘God loves a cheerful giver’. And you have been so cheerful and willing that the lovely atmosphere in the services is testament to the fantastic team spirit! I think God must love you all very much. We certainly do.

 With thanks for all that you have done in 2004, and our best wishes for a very happy New Year.

Liz Cuttell


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