WELCOME TO THE 2022 CHRISTMAS TREE FESTIVAL!
We are so pleased to be able to welcome you to the Christmas Tree Festival this year – it is always a wonderful community event, but even more so because it should have happened in 2020, and… well we all know what happened then to prevent the fir-tree-fever hitting St Saviour’s as planned, along with so many other events across the world!
So this year is extra special. We have celebrated the 120th anniversary of the dedication of the church building on 1st November 1902, so it is a particular joy to have the Christmas Tree Festival as the ‘finale’ of our special year – albeit delayed by the vagaries of Covid-19. But the theme of One World is a deliberate way of focusing our attention on the unity we share with all people, whatever their nationality, origins, condition or present experience. If lockdown taught us nothing else, it reminded us of the common frailty and vulnerability that unites us – and that in caring for and honouring one another we find our best and true selves.
St Saviour’s was founded in order to be a focal point in the life of the community in Bernards Heath, and for decades now the Christmas Tree Festival has welcomed visitors from all over the city and even further afield as we prepare for Christmas, the feast of the Incarnation – the heart of our Christian faith that in the child of Bethlehem, God shared our human existence and experience and so is with us in all things, whatever we may face or endure.
Christmas trees are of course a throwback to pre-Christian times, when evergreen plants and trees that seemed to thwart the ravages of winter were given special meaning as signs of hope and protection through the time of the Winter Solstice, observed as early as the Neolithic period at the end of the Stone Age, around 10,200 BCE.
Undoubtedly the early Western Church chose December 25th to celebrate the birth of Jesus (yeah, it really is that random!) because it suited the symbolism of the ‘return of the sun’ after the darkness of winter – but it was really our Victorian forebears who made the decorated Christmas tree a household tradition. So it’s especially appropriate that St Saviour’s has earned the reputation of being ‘the Christmas tree Church’, and can showcase so many trees in its red-brick interior.
We are so grateful to the many charities and community groups who have sponsored and decorated trees this year, and to the hard-working team from our regular congregation who have pulled it all together and made the festival possible. It is a privilege to be able to offer support to Centre 33 and Open Door as well as the ministry of St Saviour’s in this corner of St Albans.
Enjoy the festival. Have a happy and blessed Christmas. And may the smell of the pines and the lights twinkling in the darkness be a sign of hope, new life and community at the end this year – and the start of 2023.
Enjoy the festival – and know that God is with you, here, now and always.
Vicar, St Saviour’s