Why you should count your blessings this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 07:20 24 December 2008 | UPDATED: 22:48 15 June 2010

THE new parish vicar for Kilmington is sending a message of love and gratitude this Christmas.

THE new parish vicar for Kilmington is sending a message of love and gratitude this Christmas. Alastair McCollum, 39, said he chose his vocation because he believes in God's love - even if he did not always understand it.And the vicar, who grew up in Honiton, highlighted the need to appreciate the little things in life.The guitar-playing, tattoo bearing and smoking vicar may seem unconventional, but his message is simple.The married father-of-two said: "My message at Christmas is always to remember the gifts that we have - friends, family, those who share our lives. And remember that we have the greatest love - God's love for us."There's a sense of gratitude that's important in life. "We all have difficulties, but the old-fashioned saying 'count your blessings' is true."We should look at what we've got rather than grumble about what we don't have - and reach out to those who don't have much."He added that the verse from the bible 'God loves the world so much that he sent his only son' should be remembered - and was the reason he did the job.Mr McCollum, who studied theology and drama at university, did not always envisage becoming a man of the cloth.He said: "I thought I would be a teacher or in industry or commerce once I got my degree - though I can say I wasn't qualified to do anything but this at the end of it. "Theology was the subject that really excited me."He had the opportunity to serve as a lay minister and later opted to do a masters in pastoral theology. He was ordained 12 years ago at St Paul's Cathedral, in London. His work has taken him to London, Cambridge - and almost to Paris. But, he says, he is glad to be back home."I can't get over how beautiful it is here," he said. "I love the feel of this village more than anything else."I'm constantly impressed by the time and effort people make for the community. And the pace of life here - a lot say it's not going to help to rush. It's not to say people aren't busy, but they make time for others."He described his role as a privilege and fun - partly thanks to the parishioners, who were committed to the church and their village.He said: "People let you into the good and bad parts of their lives. The role of a vicar is to just be there and offer people help if they ask for it."He added the main challenge he faced was keeping up with the parishioners' activities - and wished he could be in several places at once. He said: "There's stuff going on throughout the week and people here have a real desire to look after their village.

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