The Vicarage, Blackmore, Essex. December, 1957.
"Fear not - I bring you good tidings. Unto you is born - a Saviour. This shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the babe". Luke 2 10-12
My wife and I are sitting in my study. We have been thinking and speaking of our many friends in many places. Our thoughts have roved to Scandinavia, Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the U.S.A., to say nothing of numerous places in the British Isles. And is it not fitting that this Season which recalls God's good tidings of peace on earth to men of goodwill, should find us thinking in affectionate mood of those who are dear to us by ties of nature, friendship and Christian fellow-ship.
I had hoped to prepare a more elaborate greeting than this. One which would have pictured the setting in which God had placed us for His service, as well as news of our doings. But our commitments have left insufficient time. However, we hope each recipient will receive this as personal to themselves and as conveying the warmth of personal regard which they know us to feel for them.
Radical changes have taken place in our lives since the end of the war. There have been times of testing and proving but through it all the hand of God has been upon us for good. Step by step our blessed Lord has led us in the way of His appointment and we rejoice in a sense of His nearness as well as in our partnership together. My call to the Ministry in the Church of England, going into College, and subsequent curacy in Walthamstow, challenged our faith continually but brought such sweet consolations in Christ, such joy in service that we would not, looking back, have chosen another way. We feel we can say with the hymn writer "We'll praise Him for all that is past and trust Him for all that's to come".
In July I was instituted to the Parish of Blackmore but we were unable to move into the Vicarage, which was then in building, until the end of October. Blackmore is a country parish some thirty miles from London. The Village is old and has quite a history. There was once a priory which was despoiled at the Dissolution. King Henry the Eighth was in the habit of stealing away from Westminster to find solace with one of his paramours in Blackmore. The Priory has gone but the lovely old Norman Church remains with its 14th century wooden tower and steeple. Countless generations of Blackmore people have knelt to worship Christ our Saviour within its walls and an age-long sanctity seems to reveal itself as we who worship there now bring God the offerings of our hearts and voices.
The Parish had been without a vicar for seven years. A neighbouring minister had maintained the services in the church. We shall never forget the cordial welcome we received nor shall we cease to be grateful for the help and kindly interest of the people of Blackmore. We are nicely settled in the new Vicarage and feel wonderfully at home. The slight stroke I suffered in August of last year seems to have cleared without leaving any ill-effects. Both my wife and I feel that great opportunities for Christian service are before us and we are confident that our Lord will enable us to seize those opportunities for his glory. It is our prayer that we may be found truly humble and usable.
We look forward to greetings from those we know and love and, where possible, news of their doings. This brings our own message of affectionate goodwill and prayers for your joy and blessing this Christmastide and throughout 1958.
HILDA & MONTAGUE H. KNOTT.