I wonder what traditions are part of the run up to Christmas for you. My family will buy a Christmas tree – no doubt after heated argument – from a farm which has real reindeer on show. We’ve been going to the same farm for years. It’s part of the build-up. One family member has started a personal tradition: this involves eating all the chocolates from an Advent Calendar in early September (a rushing to Christmas without much of a pause!). There’s the shopping, the making of cakes, the writing of lists, the redecoration, the big supermarket trip, the annual wrestling with Christmas cards and the tree lights… and the office do. Preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and the light and joy He brings to a needy and darkened world, is what the season of Advent is all about and we prepare in a thousand ways.
My preparation for Christmas wouldn’t be complete these days without the Rose Road Association Carol Service at Winchester College. As many readers will know, ‘Rose Road’ has worked with children, young people and their families, in Southampton and across the region, since 1952. The children and young people attending ‘Rose Road’ are often severely disabled. Responding to their needs requires, from networks and families, huge resources of love, endurance and practical care. Parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters willingly play their part in support. Some families in this situation will find themselves plunged into a real personal darkness, over-stretched and close to breaking point. It’s into this kind of situation that the team at Rose Road bring the light of hope by offering children, young people and their families a breather. They do much more besides. You might like to find out about this remarkable organisation at www.roseroad.org.uk. For me Rose Road is a little bit of Christmas hope all year round – a light shining in the darkness – as St John would say in telling the Christmas story. Enjoy the website. With all good wishes and my prayers at Christmas.
The Right Reverend Jonathan Frost, Bishop of Southampton