2011 – December

Advent…  How exciting to await with eager anticipation the arrival of our Lord and Saviour! Emmanuel – God with us…  What a joy to celebrate God presence at Christmas!  Epiphany… How inspiring to celebrate God’s revelation of himself in the New Year!  With so much excitement in our church calendar, no wonder it’s such a busy time of year.

And with so much going on, this is a season bursting with opportunities to share something of the Good News of God’s ceaseless love for all His children and all creation.  However, in the hectic festive season it’s also easy to be drawn away from God and his message of peace and joy to all.  A few weeks ago I stumbled across a sentence in the middle of a prayer which has stuck in my mind; I think it could be a good way for me to avoid losing the plot this Christmas – perhaps it will help you too…

Heavenly Father, lead me to build your Kingdom on earth and in my own life by single steps of self restraint and simple deeds of righteousness, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The prayer articulates well the means by which we will fulfil the vision for our Church:  We’re seeking to become a community in which everyone is Living and Working for the Glory of God. This will happen partly because of the four priorities we’ve identified, partly through the different initiatives, activities and programs we run and not least by the dedication of literally hundreds of people working in small ways towards the goals we’re setting ourselves.  But even more than this, the vision will be fulfilled by the difference God makes in the life of each individual in our church.

We are all called to be witnesses for God (Acts 1:9); to be full of God’s grace and make the most of every opportunity to share his love (Colossians 4:5); to be ready with an answer when asked about the difference our faith makes to us (1 Peter 3:15).  In short, we are each called to be holybecause God is Holy (Lev 19:1) – all of which is a challenge which I for one find rather daunting.  In contrast, the much more attainable idea that my Christian faith will grow, and God’s will be accomplished by “single steps of self restraint and simple acts of kindness and goodness, mercy and justice” is very refreshing.

I hope the simplicity of this prayer will make it stick in your mind, and in the craziness of the rush which surrounds Christmas and the New Year I pray it will help you stay sane and connected to God.

As I said earlier, there is a lot going on in church in the lead up to Christmas.  We hope there is something which will appeal to all ages and tastes, from Christingle and Crib Services for the youngest, and the choice between our all-age, record breaking Carol Service at St Peter’s or the Traditional Service of Lessons & Carols at St Helen’s.  Details of all our services are included in the magazine, but we’re particularly keen to make our Christmas morning Communion service at 9:30 a celebration suitable for all ages.  As we thank God for giving us all the gift of His son, we’re inviting children (and adults if you wish) to bring one of their (not too noisy) presents to show the congregation.

Wishing you peace, joy and hope this Advent, Christmastide and through into the New Year.

With best wishes & prayers – Richard.

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