Having been a parish priest for more than 40 years, I can now enjoy Christmas in my retirement in a more relaxed way.
As readers will appreciate, a great deal falls on the shoulders of the clergy at this time of the year to keep everyone content and fulfil traditional expectations.
Like Father Christmas, the clergy have to be here, there and everywhere!
I have to admit I do not miss countless carol services and nativity plays.
I can avoid some of the sugary sentimentality that we impose upon the children and the well-intentioned attempts to cover up the harsh reality of the first Christmas.
I can even be thankful that I am spared the civil wars that can surround decorating of the churches!
No, I am not becoming a grumpy old cynic in my retirement, but I am becoming much more reflective about the real truths contained in our faith and less concerned about the customs.
I am well aware that churches can use the Christmas Festival to celebrate our Christian heritage and encourage others to come and join us.
That is as it should be, for our faith is meant to be shared and too important to be kept to ourselves.
Yet what are we really celebrating in the Christmas festival? Does that celebration make any real difference to our ordinary daily lives?
Or are we just having an excuse for heroic self-indulgence?
The central message that we can grasp from the Christmas readings that we hear all through Advent and the festival itself is that we are not only very special to God but that, like Jesus, we are all His chosen people.
We are chosen not for privileges at the expense of others but to become as God wants us to be, each in our unique way.
We are to enjoy the glorious liberty of being His children.
Christmas affords us the opportunity to have a fresh look at ourselves through God’s eyes and what a difference that can make to all of us.
It could even bring peace on earth and in the pews, mercy mild in the work place and in Parliament and the reconciliation of God and sinners everywhere in our streets and in our homes.
There is more to Christmas than meets the eye!
CANON GEORGE BURGON
Making progress tackling crime
Richard Garvie (Letters, November 28) is wrong about so many things that I am writing to put him and the record straight.
After my first year as police and crime commissioner, numbers of front-line police officers have been maintained at their previous level, with no reductions.
I will do the same for the next financial year.
In addition we are recruiting 900 special constables by next October, substantially increasing police visibility.
Virtually all crime is down in Northamptonshire, some hugely so.
The force is exceeding the national average in reductions in all crime, sexual offences, robbery and theft from vehicles.
It has achieved the second largest reduction in the country of car theft.
When I was elected, violent crime here was the same as places like Merseyside, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.
I set a target to cut it by at least 40 per cent over five years.
The former police authority target was just 3.5 per cent.
We are well on the way to our target.
It’s down by almost 15 per cent in the past year.
Northamptonshire has achieved the third-largest reduction in violent crime across the whole country.
As a result the county has at least 1,200 fewer victims of violent crime.
Performance in child protection is much improved and likely to be endorsed further very soon.
These are the facts.
Inconvenient truths for Mr Garvie, who says he wants Labour to win the next general election.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire
We want to see police officers
It is very disturbing that we have had 11 attempted and actual break-ins in Corby Old Village in the past few weeks including business premises, shops and houses.
Although the police commissioner has stated we should have more bobbies on the beat walking around our streets, sadly we do not even have a single bobby, only Police Community Support Officers.
That is why the public has very little confidence in the Corby police operation.
Bonfire Night was such a success
Saturday, November 2, saw Nene Valley District Scouts’ 46th Annual Bonfire and Fireworks Display.
A great deal of hard work goes into this annual event.
Leaders from all sections of Scouting in Nene Valley come togetherfirst thing on the morning of the event to put together this spectacular show.
I would like to say a big thank you to all those in Nene Valley District Scouts for always going that extra mile.
My thanks also go to Rushden Town Council for allowing us to use Hall Park, to Concept Leisure for putting together another amazing show. Welcome and thank you to Titanium Fireworks.
Thank you to Connect FM and our sponsors, to David, Rushden’s Mayor and Consort and to all those who support us all the way.
And a very special thanks to all those wonderful people who attended our event, you make it all so worthwhile.
Nene Valley District Commissioner
Hospital’s staff were wonderful
I was recently admitted to the chest pain assessment unit and the care I received, from admission to discharge, was second to none.
Staff were wonderful, reassuring, calming, caring and professional.
They were informative regarding my treatment and the procedures I was to have.
As I had heard some not good reports regarding Kettering Hospital over the past few months I was apprehensive, but I need not have worried.
Could you help young people?
The Navy Training Corps fully supports Prince Charles’ campaign to get more young people involved in volunteering.
The Navy Training Corps is planning the launch of new cadet units in Corby and Wellingborough having established its first unit in the County at Raunds in September.
To make this happen the NTC needs to recruit more adult volunteer leaders as officers and adult instructors.
The minimum aged is 18 years but there is no upper age limit and while former membership of HM Forces or Cadet Forces is an advantage, training will be given, the commitment being one evening each week.
The Navy Training Corps is a registered charity in the tradition of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines providing leisure activities for young people aged eight to 18 years, including seamanship and sailing, camping and sports.
Information about volunteering as a youth leader in the Navy Training Corps is available by telephoning 01933 412099 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and our website is www.navytrainingcorps.org
CPT JOHN R MANDER
Northamptonshire Navy Training Corps
What is the point of going it alone?
The referendum on Scottish independence should be left to those on the voting register north of the order.
However I cannot help but make a simple observation.
The position of the Scottish National Party seems to be rather curious.
Basically it seems to be this.
First, get independence.
Second, give control of your currency to a newly foreign power – England!
Third, join the EU and give control of your borders and everything else to the unelected mandarins in Brussels.
Can’t help but ask, why bother, what’s the point?
Appeal for old programmes
I am writing to ask if any readers have spare copies of two Kettering Town programmes:
They are Kettering Town against Corby Town in the 1975-76 Northants Senior Cup Final, and Kettering Town against Dunstable in a pre-season friendly from the 1976-77 season.
If original copies are not available, photocopies would be fine.
Please contact me by email at email@example.com if you can help.
No need to make pathway changes
The several dozens of times I have walked the church paths around the Parish Church in Kettering since 1955 I have always felt at ease and at peace with the world.
Any changes would be detrimental to the area and not help the surrounding area one bit. Any changes would take away part of its history.
Rotary club says thank you
The Rotary Club of Corby Phoenix thanks the people of Corby for the amount of £178.50 donated to its street collection in the town centre on October 26.
This generosity will help support the campaign to eradicate Polio worldwide.
Rotary Club of Corby Phoenix Collection organiser
Traditions we must remember
It’s a great pity that our towns, cities and villages have blue or silver lights and not the usual multi-colours of red, green, yellow and blue at this time of year to mark a traditional British Christmas.
It’s brilliant that we’re willing to accept the faiths and ceremonies of other cultures, however we must not forget our own and keep Britain, British.