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A promise made and kept for life - that was your gift -

Because of which, here is a gift in return.

Simon Armitage, Poet Laureate

These are words from a poem marking the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  Inevitably this year we will all think of Queen Elizabeth and how she has featured in so many of our own Christmas day rituals, but we also look forward to what King Charles will say.

But as the Poet Laureate suggests, in this season of gifts we remember that she gave us a gift and for me that was always about being brought back to what is at the heart of the celebrations.  The true gift of Christmas is the gift of the Christ-child, the one born in the stable, laid in the manager, the one that shepherds and wise men adore, the one for whom flights of angels sing, the one to whom all creation bows.  That is gift – and the ‘gift in return’ is being able to share that gift with those around us.

Whether we see in the child lying in the straw love or peace or promise, whether we see there true God or true man, we know that the gifts on offer are life changing and world changing for all of us, and this Christmas, as much as any, we need everything that God so freely offers.

As you receive the gift of Jesus, share it too, and know that love, that peace, that promise, that God in man offers to you.

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The Very Reverend Andrew Nunn, Dean of Southwark