Christmas Messages From Henley Mayor and Father Jeremy

Dear Henley Herald readers,

I would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas season. It has been a wonderful month of celebration and I hope our local businesses have thrived through the festivities. Christmas in Henley is magical, whether it’s the beautiful new Christmas lights, buying the best local products from amazing local shops or simply walking past the many excellent Christmas window displays, even the most simple trip into town can bring joy and comfort and I thank you all for being part of that.

I hope all Henley Residents have a comfortable Christmas and for those who prefer to avoid it entirely, I wish you peace and happiness also. Christmas can be the best time of year for some people, but for others it is the hardest. Please take time to check on your elderly and vulnerable neighbours over the holidays.

As we stand on the threshold of a new year, I am filled with gratitude and optimism for the year that lies ahead for our beloved town. The past year has presented us with challenges at Henley Town Council, but it has also showcased the resilience and unity that define our council members and our community.

In the face of simple community issues and the much deeper feelings of helplessness and despair with international events, including war, Henley has demonstrated its strength through neighbourly support, community initiatives, and a shared commitment to overcoming local, national and international issues. As your Mayor, I am proud to lead a town that pulls together in times of need and celebrates together in times of joy.

I encourage each of you to set personal goals for the coming year and to find ways to contribute to the betterment of our community. Whether it’s volunteering, supporting local businesses, or participating in town events, your involvement makes a difference.

Again, a very merry Christmas to all of you and yours and a Happy New Year Henley. Thank you for your continued support.

Councillor Kellie Hinton
Henley Mayor

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I’m sure most of you will have a favourite aspect of the story of the Nativity.  For some of you, perhaps, there is consolation in the poverty of the Holy Family, and the recognition that it was amongst the poor that the Son of God chose to dwell; for others, perhaps it is in the ox and ass, a nod to that sense of kinship with animals that is important to many of us; for others it may the story of the Three Wise Men, representatives of the culturally-sophisticated civilisation that lay to the east of the Holy Land, bringing with them fine gifts to offer to the Prince of Peace; for others it may be St John’s exploration of the underlying meaning of Christmas, the story of the Word who is with God and who is God and who became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.

For me, I think my favourite thing is a little line that comes towards the end of St Luke’s account of the Nativity: “Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart”.

“Ponder” may not be a very fashionable word.  The associated adjective “ponderous” tends to be used as an insult, describing someone who is slow or clumsy.  But pondering is commended to us in Luke’s gospel.  In our rather hurried, action-driven and materialistic world, we’re not always very good at pondering.  When we use our brains, it’s more likely to be because we’re planning, scheming, calculating, even fantasising.  But to ponder is something really quite different.  Pondering is often inconclusive.  We’re not necessarily trying to achieve anything in particular, we’re not necessarily trying to arrive at a decision.  But that process of pondering, meditating, ruminating, musing, can nevertheless be richly rewarding.

So I hope that after the rush and scramble to get everything ready for Christmas, we will all have time for a little pondering on the story and meaning of Our Lord’s Nativity, in wonder and joy and love.

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas!

Fr Jeremy
St Mary’s Church

 

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