Dr John Smith

The carol service at Wren Spinney School reaffirmed the Rev Dr John Smith's sense of wonder
The carol service at Wren Spinney School reaffirmed the Rev Dr John Smith's sense of wonder

I was going to write about how I struggle with the Christmas season.

It would be easy to have a clergyman’s rant about how it begins earlier and earlier, how the message of Christmas gets lost in the seductive and rampant commercialism.

I could have written too about the joys and sadness that I witnessed as a doctor. It is difficult, for some, to be happy in the face of serious illness, of death, of being alone.

At Christmas other people’s joy can be someone else’s sorrow.

But no, I am not writing about that.

I want instead to tell you about when my heart as well as my head knew that Christmas was approaching, when I once more felt a sense of wonder in the birth of a child, God’s son, God’s gift to the world.

When did I feel this? I can tell you precisely, 9.45am Tuesday, December 18, the start of Wren Spinney School’s carol service in our church.

Wren Spinney is a school for children who have severe, profound and complex needs.

Their needs are huge, their difficulties are immense but in they came with their teachers, their parents, grandparents and friends. A slow and wonderful procession.

Their lives may not be easy but that does not, and did not, stop them from having a sense of wonder and joy in the Christmas story.

Singing and reading, not easy either, but done with gusto and after every carol and every reading loud claps. Sheer good news.

But it was more than that, amidst all their problems they remembered and prayed for the children and adults killed in the school in Newtown, Connecticut.

They remembered too the millions who lost their lives in Auschwitz, just as they too hoped in Christ’s birth in Bethlehem.

I am 66 years old, I have been very fortunate in my life, my work, my family, but it takes a school like Wren Spinney to make me realise that, and my need to give more and take less.