Dear Companions and friends,

I begin my chaplain’s letter on the feast of St Nicolas – 6th December. This is one of those early warning signals that the great Feast of the Incarnation on 25th is on its way. By then Nicolas will have combed his beard, donned his red robe and hitched up the reindeer. That is all good innocent fun provided we always remember the central message of Christmas – ‘the Word was Made Flesh and lived among us’. God, in Christ shares our life and comes to give us abundant life. The tradition of St Nicolas as Santa Claus tells us that we be generous as God was generous beyond measure in redeeming the world.

The real St Nicolas was generous. One story tells how he redeemed children who had been sold into slavery. Perhaps our own Nicolas (Stebbing) has inherited some of the charism of his namesake for he too works tirelessly to give a life of freedom and joy to children and young people in Zimbabwe. Have a look at his Tariro website and be inspired.

8th December is another feast before Christmas that fuels our anticipation of Christmas. The feast of the Conception of Mary reminds us that before Our Lady could say ‘yes’ to God’s great invitation she needed to be given the strength necessary for her task and so from the very first moment of her existence the Holy Spirit accompanied her in her vocation so when the Angel saluted her in Nazareth she was ‘full of grace’.  So this feast calls us to reflect on our calling as Christians. The Community has been very busy in the past month with lots of people coming – something every week at the Centre and at least one retreat a week at the House. The place is buzzing and many people are finding quiet, peace, joy and inspiration. Do think about making a retreat or coming on a quiet day. If you are prevented by infirmity, family or other responsibilities you might find time at 6.00pm or 9.15 to have a quiet time and realise that you are joining in prayer with the Community,

In all this busy time we realise that over the years the Community has grown smaller and more work is now being shared by less brethren. We love the calling that God has given to us. To fulfil it we need to be given the strength, the grace to do God’s will and serve his people. Please pray that we will be given such strength, please pray that others may join us in that calling.

I want to thank everyone who has contributed or supported in other ways my ‘Run for Tariro’. I am reasonably fit and I run every day and so far have kept to my intention of running at least one 10k per week until the big day on 26th January 2019.

So may Advent be a time of blessing for you and may the joy of the Gospel bring fill you with love and peace.

Yours in Christ,

John CR