The Vicarage, Blackmore, Essex. December, 1959.
Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly". John 10.10 "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them .... and be their God". Rev. 21.3
The oncoming of Christmas finds us thinking again of friends to whom we would send greeting. Somehow the drawn curtains, shutting out the darkness of the night and the glow of a fire, conduce to nostalgic memories of past events and associations.
We have just entered the Season of Advent for the third time since coming to Blackmore. The past year has brought encouragement and a clear indication that the extension of Christ's Kingdom in this Parish will be stubbornly contested by Satan through every worldly influence with which it is possible to captivate the minds of men.
Our congregations are made up mainly of the older generation, among whom are some fine Christians. The middle generation, parents of school-age children, seem generally to have no interest in religion. The younger generation, lacking parental example are casual in their interest, although our Mission Church and Parish Church Junior Sections have some forty to fifty regular members. The women's meetings and especially the small Bible study group continue healthily.
Much repair work has been done to the Parish Church, at a cost exceeding £2,000. At least a further £3,000 will be needed to finish the work. It is surely honouring to God that a parish church should be in good repair, and whilst we are bending our efforts to this end, we have a greater desire to see the living church adorned with the likeness of Christ her Lord and effective in making known the Gospel of God's grace.
Several younger people, who appeared to be growing spiritually, have fallen away. This can be understood, for apart from brief periods in church fellowship there is nothing at home or abroad to promote spiritual development. For this and other aspects of God's work in Blackmore we ask and shall value your prayers.
It is our hope that this outline of news from Blackmore will encourage our friends to reciprocate with word of their own affairs to the strengthening of those mutual ties, which we value greatly.
The year has brought us, as it surely has every child of God, testing and discipline by which the Spirit would purge our dross and refine our natures. We are discovering that abundance of life is God's design for his children and so we give you the texts at the head of this letter. The "more abundantly" is the rich reward for dying to this world and its ways. The Apostle John wrote "he that hath the Son hath life". Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men and He will dwell with them. How stimulating to courage, how comforting to the mind, to know that in the Christ, whose birth we commemorate at this Season, God dwells with every believer, and will show himself their God in the vicissitudes of life.
May your Christmastide be filled with holy joy and the New Year enable you to prove the unfailing grace of God.
Cordially your friends,