Friday, 18 December 2015

Blackmore: Christmas Letters from Revd. Montague Hardwick Knott (1962)

Christmas 1962

19 - CHRISTMAS - 62
The Vicarage, Blackmore, Essex.

Dear Friend,

It is more than five years since we made our home in Blackmore. We begin to feel that we are taking root in the Essex countryside. Our village is a little off the beaten track and the tempo of life is slower than in Woodford and Walthamstow, the districts from which we came. We find this suits us very well and if we see less of friends of long standing, we feel that our lives have been greatly enriched in the making of new friendships with people of choice character.

As regards the Parish, the year has brought the round of activities which have established a pattern of procedure for us. In February we held our Parish Supper, an enjoyable meal followed by a review of the previous year's results in church affairs and a statement of our plans for 1962, afforded an occasion of happy fellowship. The Annual Meeting in early May was encouraging. The accounts showed a slightly improved position and the Church decided to increase its giving from the church funds to the Church's work at home and overseas. Once again we were favoured with a lovely day for our Garden Fete in the grounds of Jericho Priory, held as usual in June. The proceeds, in aid of the church repairs, showed a slight increase over previous years. And so with the harvest services and supper, the childrens and women's outings, we could write in similar strain. Looking back, we feel it has been a good year.

There is also that aspect of Christ's work in our Parish, not so evident as the more public occasions, which is, in our minds, of greater importance. We feel that with the few there is a growing appreciation for the Word of God, a gradual and deepening spiritual apprehension of Christ our Saviour and of God's eternal purposes in Him. There is growth in the work amongst the children, and the Bible study held fortnightly is better attended. In pastoral ministry to the aged, the sick and the sorrowing we have been conscious of the Lord's help in bringing counsel and comfort to those in need. Preparation for baptism and marriage, the conducting of funerals, all enable us to urge our parishioners to relate their lives to God and so secure the rich blessings He makes available to those who make his Son their Friend.

The repairs to the fabric of our ancient church still claim much time and attention. We are suffering from past years of neglect. What we thought would cost some £5000 when we first came, will eventually cost quite £12,000. An important stage in the repair of the historic wooden tower is in progress as we write and this will take us past the halfway mark.

As regards ourselves, we continue in good health and are grateful for strength given to perform our duties. Our lives seem busier than ever. We are conscious of a closer walk with the Lord Jesus and find the peace He promised His followers, a greater reality in our lives.

This year has not been uneventful with its piloted earth satellites, inter-stellar probes and crises in Africa, the Middle East, Cuba and India. There is the anomaly of half the world wanting and half the world wasting; of human knowledge and skill providing at the same time, the means to improve health and prolong life, and also to maim and destroy millions. Small wonder that peace does not flourish in such a seed bed. Yet it was into this same world that Jesus came nineteen centuries ago. Changes are only in form not in spirit or nature. Men yearned for peace then as now. The absence of peace from the affairs of nations was and is only a reflection of the absence of peace from the affairs of men. The message of the Angels was "Peace on earth to men of good will." If all were men of good will, and in the experience of peace, then would there be peace with nations.

In his commentary, Matthew Henry says that the Lord Jesus had neither silver nor gold to leave his disciples his departing but he bequeathed something infinitely more valuable - his peace. This legacy is for the reader and writer as much as for the twelve. Here is the clause.

"Peace is my parting gift to you, my own peace, such the world cannot give. Set your troubled hearts at rest, and banish your fears." (John 14.27 N.E.B.)

It remains to record our affectionate greetings. To wish you God's rich blessing through the coming year. To say that as we address the envelope which brings you this letter, we gather you and your affairs into our thoughts and prayers. We hope we may hear from you when you have time to write.

Very cordially yours,

Hilda and Montague H. Knott

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