Letter from the Rectory - December 2021

Dear Friends,

I recently came across a legend that Russians have apparently shared for centuries.  It is about a young medieval prince, Alexis, who lived in a sumptuous palace, while all around him hundreds of poor peasants lived in filthy hovels.  The Prince was moved with compassion for these less fortunate men and women and determined to improve their living conditions. So, he began to visit them.  However, as he moved in and out amongst them, he found he’d got absolutely no point of contact with any of them. They treated him with considerable respect, even deference; but he was never able to win their confidences, still less their affection, and he returned to the palace a disappointed young man.


Then one day a very different man came to live there.  He was a rough-and-ready young doctor who also wanted to devote his life to serving the poor. He started by renting a filthy, rat-infested shack on one of the back streets.  He made no pretence of being superior – his clothes, like theirs, were old and tattered.  He lived on the plainest food, often carrying on without knowing where the next meal was coming from.  He made no money from his profession because he treated most people free and gave away his medicines.  Before long, this young doctor had won the affection of all those he was living amongst in a way that Prince Alexis had never succeeded in doing.  The young doctor was one of them, little by little transforming the whole spirit of the place, settling quarrels, reconciling enemies and helping people to live worthwhile lives.


Although you may have, according to the legend no one ever guessed the true identity of the young doctor: that he was in fact the Prince himself, who had abandoned his palace and gone to live amongst the people and become one of them.  The analogy is self-apparent – for that is exactly what God did on that first Christmas Day. Jesus came down to live on earth; and he continues to be amongst us today, helping us to live full and purposeful lives, becoming the people he longs for us to be.

Happy Christmas - when it comes!


James Campbell