"I’d been told that life in Romsey Abbey gets a little busy during December, and they were right! With weeks of hosting carol services and concerts preparing for Christmas, not forgetting Romsey events including the Lantern Parade and Carols in the Market Place and our own services and celebrations, it certainly has been just that. I love the Christmas season and I’ve been wearing my Christmas jumper and silly hat at every opportunity! It is a joyful season and a time of giving.

And thinking of giving, I have tucked away in draws at home unwanted, unused and quite clearly unsuccessful Christmas gifts of the past. Things like a bag of potpourri, a few quirky things meant as stocking fillers bought in a mad rush on Christmas Eve. Gifts that didn’t really have much thought and attention behind them. Christmas is a time to think about giving and seeing these unwanted gifts makes me think about gifts that last.

There are countless people who give their time, skill and talents for the good of others. These are gifts that last and make a difference. Around the Abbey, you see saintly sweepers, caterers, flower arrangers, bell ringers, stewards and many more. In the wider community, you see volunteers in community centres and charity shops, professionals using their time and skills to improve and build up the lives of others in the community. These are gifts that last and make a difference.

So, as we continue to celebrate Christmas, I leave you to cast your thoughts towards the ultimate gift at the heart of this season. The Christ Child, God’s gift to a troubled, beautiful and broken world. God’s gift given in human frailty and weakness. God’s gift full of risk and potential."

Revd Thomas Wharton

Vicar of Romsey Abbey & St Swithun’s, Crampmoor