Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It falls to me in this time of vacancy to write a note with the sincerest greetings for the coming Nativity of our Saviour, and to thank you for your faithfulness, holiness and sheer hard work at a time which has been difficult, isolating and challenging. Since the beginning of the vacancy, I have been hugely impressed with the spirit and morale of people across the See of Ebbsfleet, and am delighted to report that our initial meetings since Bishop Jonathan’s announcement have been occasions of hope, of mutual love and support, and for that we are grateful.

I write this note just before the First Evening Prayer of Advent Sunday, when we turn to the future hope and promise of our coming Lord. My prayers throughout Advent are with you, and I encourage you to pray for the whole see, using the prayer so thoughtfully written by Fr. Ecclestone, for whom we continue to pray.  Whatever the highs and lows of church life, God is eternally faithful, and will not abandon his people. Christmas is the greatest sign of that and overwhelms our Advent longing in ways we simply could not have imagined.

In the midst of the business of the coming days may we all be encouraged to seek out time when we can ponder the sublime mystery of the Incarnation and hold this treasure close to us. As we embark upon the ‘Year of Luke’ it may help to recall these words of William Frebuger.

   “Lukes Gospel account of the Christmas event is full of activityAnd yet, in the middle of the frenetic action, here is this woman wrapped in mystical silenceShe demonstrates the necessity of a quiet place within ourselves at Christmastimethat place where we are most ourselves in relation to God.

   “It is a place of silence, not because it is untouched by all the activity of our lives, but because it is capable of wonder. Every prayer begins with silent wonder before it turns to words. Our first response to God is dumbstruck awe at who he is and what he has done for us.”[1]

With my prayers and good wishes for the Holy Season

[1] Wm. Frebuger, Making Christmas a Saving Event, Catholic Update, 12-85

Fr Damian Feeney

Acting Chair, Ebbsfleet Council of Clergy