Letter from the Priest at Crowland Abbey
On Christmas Eve we have a larger attendance at our services here in Crowland Abbey than we have at any other time of the year. Is this simply because of tradition? Or is there mingled in with the observance of a tradition something else, a yearning for hope in a world that all too often can seem dark and menacing? I like to think that this yearning for hope plays a part in people’s coming to church at this time of year.
Chances are that you who are reading this are one of those persons who attends one of our Christmas Eve services. So why is it that I do not see you at other times in the year? Please don’t think this question is meant as a rebuke, for I can well understand why you don’t come at other times. I understand that the church can be a difficult place to come into if you either do not know anyone there or if you do not know ‘the drill’ and are afraid of doing the wrong thing. I can understand that breaking out of a habit of non-attendance can be very hard to do. I can understand that you may be fearful of being brain-washed or sucked into something that is completely alien. Or, despite wanting to try and tease out what this Christmas hope is, you may worry about being told you have to believe a whole host of impossible things. In short, I understand that religion is not the flavour of the month, by a long shot.
If what I have written above describes you, either wholly or in part, please know that there is a way to investigate what this Christmas hope is all about without having to go to church on Sunday. Some time back we at the Abbey together with our friends at Crowland Methodist Church set up what we call the Explorers Group, a group that is designed to help anyone who is curious to learn more about the Christian faith. We meet in the Crowland Hub at 7.30 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month with the aim of exploring what faith, Christian faith in particular, is all about. We meet in the Hub because we know that for many people going into a church building can be difficult. We are a small, relaxed, informal group of adults of varying ages and backgrounds. What brings us together is a desire to explore what faith means in a friendly, safe environment. Anyone is welcome to drop in. You will be welcomed, but not pounced on!
So if you find that you are attracted to the hope that Christmas represents, why not give our group a try? Why not seriously try to find out more about the faith that underlies Christmas? You might find you are amazingly surprised. You might find that faith gives you what your heart has always, deep down, been searching for.
May that gift, the gift of real hope, be yours.