Advent message from Revd John Dane, Chaplain of University of Chichester

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I wonder what you are hoping for at Christmas?  I am hoping for gadgets!

It doesn’t really matter what it is or what it costs as long as it does something techie and it has lots of buttons! 

I love to explore something new that promises to help me make a task easier!

When I unwrap these gifts a rubbish pile builds up, the Christmas wrapping, the box, the plastic protection, the labels and... the instruction manual! 

I don’t know if it is a man thing like not asking for directions when you are lost, but, I have many friends who can’t be bothered with instruction books and then spend hours pushing buttons rebooting, and scratching their head trying to figure out how it works. 

I usually manage to work out how to do what I want but, with most of my gadgets I am only using a fraction of their capabilities. If I would only read the manual I could use their full potential.

How much easier it is when I have someone who understands the instruction manual and can show me, in person, how to get the most out of whatever it is I am struggling with, or can show me how to fix it when I have broken it with my fiddling.

I think this is how things are with many of us Christians. God has given us our instruction manual.

The Bible, particularly the New Testament, tells us how to live happily but, we often only use it or call on God when we have completely run out of ideas on how to live our lives successfully on our own.

Sometimes we break down completely despite our own best efforts. 

God not only gave us the instruction manual. He sent his son Jesus to live out the instructions, to SHOW us how we are meant to live and respond with each other.  If we look at how Jesus lived and what He did we can find a way to live out our full potential, to be what God intended us to be. 

One of the reasons that we enjoy Christmas so much is that we do more of what Jesus showed us. 

We GIVE, we think of those less fortunate than ourselves, we are concerned for others’ happiness, we try to please them and make their lives better, we show more love. 

That is the centrality of following Christ, to love and serve others. As we are encouraged by Christ to forget our own desires and wants and focus on the needs of others, then we are able to find the love, peace and happiness that God wants for us. 

I pray that you may find time this Christmas to read the manuals!