Reverend Sue’s Blog
4 April 2020
28 March 2020
22 March 2020
Seeing it Differently
Last July, as we made the final preparations to begin the refurbishment of our Worship area, we asked the children what they would like to see in the church. Phoebe and Harrison suggested a slide from the top of the pulpit to the ground, leading to a ball pool to save me nipping up and down the pulpit stairs during services! Sadly, I had to explain to the children that great as it would be, this probably wouldn’t meet with architectural approval. So, I was highly amused on seeing the pictures of a helter skelter in Norwich Cathedral! The 50ft helter skelter has been set up short term in the Nave as part of a ‘Seeing It Differently’ project with the aim of giving people the opportunity ‘to experience the Cathedral in an entirely new way and open up conversations about faith’.
As I say, we don’t have a helter skelter but we do have a church that is very different in its appearance from how it has looked during its previous 140 years. And yet, despite the changes to the colour, décor and furnishings, it is still very much Emmanuel, a beautiful building where for decades people have gathered to praise God, and still do today, a building renewed for future generations.
At the end of this month our leadership team will be spending a day together to explore how we can move forward as a church community in new, refreshed ways, to make God’s love for all people real. I know too that over the summer, many of you having been praying for the future life of our church. At our service of re-dedication on Sunday 8th September, we will sing these words, written by Marty Haugen, ‘Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live. Built of hopes and dreams and visions, here the love of Christ shall end divisions: all are welcome in this place’.
So as we celebrate and take pleasure and comfort from our new surroundings, let’s continue to nurture a community with Jesus at the centre of everything we do, where all feel welcome and accepted and loved by God – with or without the slide and ball pool!
As I write this, Mark and I have just returned from a weekend visit to Bath, a much appreciated gift from all the lovely folks at Emmanuel. This was our first visit to the City. The sun shone and we enjoyed a tour of the fascinating Roman Baths, a mini cruise on the river and some delicious meals accompanied by excellent live Jazz Trios.
On the Sunday Morning we attended a service of Holy Communion at Bath Abbey. Taking a weekend away from the challenges of the refurbishment of our Worship space, we found ourselves looking upon a project on an even bigger scale than ours! Parts of the beautifulAbbey’s floor are collapsing and the floor is sinking where bodies buried beneath it have decomposed, resulting in huge gaps being created, making the floor unstable. That’s one problem we didn’t have! Whilst the Abbey floor is being repaired, all 891-ledger stones that make up the floor have to be lifted, documented and repaired. As with Emmanuel, a new underfloor heating system is being installed, but unlike us, there are plans to tap into (excuse the pun) the city’s underground hot springs. Fascinating!
As Mark and I spoke to Abbey staff, we reflected upon the stresses of raising funds and changing the inner fabric of what are two very special buildings, loved by many. They too have had to deal with the sensitivity of removing pews and other fixtures. But it was a joy to share our passion for preserving the heritage of our buildings, whilst making them fit for purpose to welcome present and future generations. And we also spotted six other very special inhabitants of the Abbey. High up in one of the Abbey’s majestic towers, two Peregrine Falcons have nested and hatched four chicks. We witnessed the soaring of the parents as they gathered food, and through an internal camera, we were able to watch the chicks being fed. Despite the building activity below, within the towers of the Abbey the birds have found warmth, shelter and security and it was just a stunning reminder of new life and the wonder of creation. As we continue to settle into our new worship space, may it continue to be a place where people find warmth, shelter and security and we may we continue to spread the message of new life to be found through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Preparing to move back into the Church has given us the opportunity to reflect upon new ways of reaching out to our local community, so please pray for the new initiatives ‘Together on Wednesday’ and ‘Little Fishes’, that will both be launched in May. We are currently in the season of Lent, when we take the opportunity to reflect upon our relationship with God and our response to Jesus’ call to be his disciples. We also look forward to our ‘Talking of God Together’ sessions, which have resulted from our newly formed ‘Faith Forum’. Everyone will be welcome and we would encourage you to bring friends along to these sessions as through scripture, poetry, artwork and testimonies, we can come together, informally, to simply talk about, and deepen our relationship with God.
As a community, embarking on a new chapter in the life of our Church, I thank God for the opportunity to continue to Minister here at Emmanual, and pray that as the body of Christ, we will continue to encourage one another in our faith, serve our local community and experience the joy of the resurrection of Christ our Lord.
May God continue to bless us all this glorious Eastertide
More Than Just a Gift
On Thursday November 15th, the nation waited impatiently for a much-anticipated event. I’m not referring of course to the proposed deal on Brexit, but to the release of the John Lewis advert. For those of you who may not have seen the advert, it recalls the memories of the singer Elton John as he achieves musical success. The advert ends with the moment his career began when, as a little boy, he received his grandmother’s piano for his Christmas present. The strapline of the advert is ‘Some gifts are more than just a gift’.
Watching the advert with Mark, my husband, Mark recalled the first time, aged five, that he played a piano. Mark’s early musical talent was nurtured by Mrs Walmesley, a wonderful lady, suffering with Parkinsons, who, as the illness progressed, deferred to asking her husband Mr Walmesley to demonstrate certain techniques when the disease prevented her from doing so herself. But her gift of music was more than just a gift to Mark. His love of the piano enables Mark to serve God, through worship, in a very special and individual way. And I’m sure our organists Carole, Roy and Tom would each be able to share their love of music and the piano with us.
At Christmas we celebrate a gift that is so much more than a gift. Isaiah 9:6 -7 says ‘For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’.
This year we have remembered the cessation of World War 1 in 1918, but 2018 has been far from peaceful for many people. Sadly we have seen an increase in knife crime. The numbers of people finding themselves without a home and employment has risen too, and I know many of you have found your peace disrupted through illness or the loss of loved ones. And yet amidst this, God gives us the assurance of his love and his peace. When we remember the child in the manger, we remember too the man who he became, the man who showed us how to bring hope, love, justice, peace and joy into our world.
And so, on behalf of myself, Mark, Rebecca, Alasdair, Chris, Ellie, Connor, Leana and Ezekiel, may we wish you all every Christmas blessing and may we continue to be thankful for the gift of the Christ Child,
I wonder what kind of stories you like to read? I admit to being someone who likes to unwind with a story involving laughter, romance and a happy ending! I have to confess also to being someone who gets caught up in the stories of the lives of fictional soap opera characters – much to Mark’s dismay! But I wonder how many of you have had the opportunity to share your life story with other people? Wearing a clerical collar when I’m out and about, nipping into supermarkets, petrol stations etc, is always an interesting experience. I tend to find that when people realise I’m a Minister they either want to share their story with me or run away from me as quickly as possible! But of course we all have a story to tell.
For the connexional year 2019/2020, 3Generate, our Methodist Children and Youth Assembly, are asking us to engage in a ‘Year of Testimony’, but we are encouraged to begin this process now; to take opportunities to share our faith stories with one another, to share what Jesus means to us in our day to day living. Through our stories and sharing of experiences we can encourage one another in our faith. People often thank me for visiting them and listening to them, but believe me when I say that Iam the one who is truly blessed to have the opportunity to sit with people and listen to their stories and their faith. It is always an honour and a privilege to hear of how God is at work in the lives of other people, to share stories that testify to the awesome love he has for us. And so, over the coming months I hope we will be encouraged to talk to and listen to one another, and to continue to support and care for one another, through happy times and sad, as we journey together in faith.
As I write this letter I have just returned from a week studying The Reformation. I wonder if any of you have ever been to Morebath? Morebath was, and is, a tiny sheep-farming village in Devonshire. In the sixteenth century it was inhabited by thirty-three families who worked the land on the edge of Exmoor. During the English Reformation, this tiny community found themselves living with the effects of reforms in the Church, whilst living under the Monarchial rule of Henry VIII, and his children; Mary Tudor, Edward VI and Elizabeth 1st.
What is very special about this community is that detailed records were kept of all their Parish activities by their Priest, Sir Christopher Trychay (in the sixteenth century priests were known as Sir, not Father). In a commentary spanning fifty years we read of the daily lives of a Priest and his Parishioners who experienced first hand the events that took England from a Church rooted in Catholicism, to early forms of what eventually became the Protestant Church. Through the accounts of Sir Christopher, we are given a glimpse of life in a rural world subjected to instability and rebellion. But throughout all the tumult of events happening around them, the villagers and their Priest never wavered from their commitment to worship the God in whom they placed their trust.
Significantly, they always had a new project afoot connected to the upkeep of their Church and how its inner fabric reflected their beliefs and worship.
We are soon to embark upon the refurbishment of our building, a project in which many people have invested of their time, their money and most importantly their prayers. The architects, builders, electricians, plumbers and other professional bodies will provide us with a fabric within which we will have the opportunity to celebrate our faith and beliefs. New disabled access will entitle everyone to enter and exit the building through the same door. Movable seating will give us the opportunity to explore alternative ways of worshipping. A kitchen and open space in the porch will provide further facilities for hospitality and fellowship. And of course, new plaster and paint will brighten our surroundings reflecting the glory and goodness of our God.
I won’t promise to keep detailed records like those of Sir Christopher but I truly believe that when people look back on our efforts, they will see a community committed to serving God in this place, in this time. We walk forward in faith. Let the next stage of Emmanuel’s journey with God begin!!
A Probationary Year (Nearly)
On Sunday May 6th we held my Testimony service. Following a delicious tea I was thrilled to celebrate the occasion in a full Church. The singing was awesome and we were blessed to have our musicians and choir. It was also lovely to have prayers led by our young people. For me personally, it gave me the opportunity to reflect upon my training to date.
Six years ago, as I attended two days of interviews by the Connexional Candidates Committee, I took with me the verse John 15; 12 ‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you’. My journey since then has had its fair share of ups and downs, U turns, no entry and full speed ahead moments. And of course challenges, surprises and blessings. The challenge and exhaustion of juggling a teaching position, whilst studying for a degree at college in Birmingham and still trying to be a good Mum, wife and in the latter stages, Grandma. The challenge and headache of being required to read hundreds of books and write 6,000 word essays thirty years after I left formal education. The challenge of placements in hospitals, soup kitchens, dementia units, hostels and a Church that disagree strongly with the ordination of women. The challenge of going before various committees and receiving reports written about me, and the surprise, relief and sheer joy of being told on March 6th that I am deemed ready to be ordained. And amongst this has been the unbelievable blessing of being given shared pastoral responsibility for our Church here in Ormskirk.
Since arriving at Emmanuel I have had so many wonderful experiences. I remain truly humbled that people allow me to journey alongside them at the most liminal moments of their lives: the death of a loved one, the baptism of their child, their union in marriage. I’ve learnt how to play bananagrams whilst on the wayward wanderers walking weekends, got far too competitive in the quiz on the Church weekend, peeled potatoes on the Boys Brigade camp and competed in team races, also involving potatoes, with the Girls Brigade. I‘ve got Messy at Messy Church and sung carols with the Sunday School and the choir, played the ukulele with the women’s fellowship and eaten delicious home-made cakes with the Guild… so many activities too numerous to mention. But of course amongst all this activity, I have prayed with people, read and studied scripture and presided at the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
As a Minister I have the privilege and responsibility of seeking to discern God’s will for the Church and how we can seek to serve the wider community. I go into our schools to assist with the nurturing and developing of the spiritual lives of our young people. I have the opportunity to work with my ecumenical partners as we seek to make Christ real in the lives of the people of Ormskirk and I have just been asked to support the students and staff of the diverse community at Edge Hill University. But together, as a Church community, we have the privilege and responsibility of being part of a corporate journey with Christ as we seek to understand what Jesus really meant, in very practical terms, when he said ‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you’.
And so, I would like to say a huge heart-felt thank you to all those of you who have been and will continue to be a part of my journey in ministry. On July 1st as I kneel for ordination, I will feel the joy in my heart of knowing that you continue to pray for me as I continue to pray for you. We journey together as a people called to love one another as Christ loves us. May God continue to bless us all and everything we do in his name.
Words for the Journey
I wonder how many of us have embarked on a great journey? Perhaps a journey to a place in the world you have had a life-long desire to visit, or maybe a journey to visit a loved one? Perhaps a journey towards a new career pathway or the start of a new relationship. Perhaps a journey that seeks to deal with the onset of ill health?
Life is full of journeys. And of course we will have I’m sure, experienced times when the journeys we have planned have been interrupted. These can range from trivial but irritating road diversions or rail-replacement bus services, to those worrying and uncertain periods of darkness that life can take us through. Sometimes these changes of plan can be a source of annoyance and frustration, while at other times they can bring us unexpected blessings. Sometimes our plans will be changed, as we are taken in the totally new direction that God has planned for us.
Journeying is very much at the centre of my thoughts at this time, as I continue to journey towards the path of ordination; a journey that is testing me to the limits, but a journey through which I am growing in faith and receiving untold blessings along the way. I hope to tell you more about this journey in the next issue of ‘In Touch’, but suffice to say, I am unbelievably grateful for the love and support I am receiving from you all at Emmanuel as I continue to walk this pathway.
As I sit writing this letter, I have in my hands a beautiful little book entitled ‘Words for the Journey’. The book contains short extracts of Scripture to encourage us as we continue with life’s journey. It was given to me by Anne Baldwin. Anne knows only too well the frustration and uncertainty of interrupted journeys that have affected her journey to Sri Lanka to become an Overseas Mission Partner. Anne’s resolve to put her trust in God during these delays, has been an inspiration and we will continue to hold Anne in prayer as she embarks on this amazing new journey in her life, responding to God’s call to serve overseas.
And we are of course journeying through the season of Lent, a time of honest, prayerful reflection. As we travel through Lent we have the opportunity to examine the thoughts of our hearts and minds, focusing upon the journey of our Saviour Jesus who walked to the cross – a journey of pain and suffering, a journey of self-sacrifice and self giving love.
Right in the centre of the book, ‘Words for the Journey’, are these words from Deuteronomy 31:8, ‘The LORD himself will lead you and be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you, so do not lose courage or be afraid’. What a gift those words are.
And so my prayer as we continue to journey through Lent is that we will all have the assurance to journey with Christ through this time of reflection and self-examination of our relationship with God.
May God continue to bless us all,
Shed – No Bed!
This beautiful picture is taken from an original oil painting by the artist, Rev Kip Cooks. Kip has illustrated the children’s storybook In a shed without a bed written by Rev Sally Binymin. All proceeds from this book are to be used to buy gifts for those people who will spend this Christmas living on the streets. In the book, we see Mary and Joseph, homeless refugees, travel to Bethlehem where their baby is ‘born in a shed without a bed.’
On the final page of the book we see people who have visited the newborn baby, leaping with joy as they spread the good news of the birth of God’s Son. In Luke’s gospel 2:10 we read, ‘And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
The reality is that for many people Christmas is not a joyous time of year for many different reasons. As a Church community we have a message of love, a message of a baby who came into the world to show us God’s love and how we can help to build communities built upon Christ’s values of peace, justice for all people, tolerance and understanding. This Christmas we will give out hand-knitted angels to the people in our wider community. Each angel will be adorned with a label that says simply, ‘A gift of love at Christmas.’ We will send boxes of gifts to children through the project Operation Christmas Child, and we will donate toys and food items for families in need. All these actions will witness to the love we receive from Jesus the Christ-child.
John’s gospel 1:14 says, ‘The Word became a human being and, full of grace and truth, lived among us. We saw his glory, the glory which he received as the Father’s only Son.’ I pray that as 2017 draws to a close and we move into 2018, we will continue as a church family to find ways of giving people a glimpse of the glory of God, that we will continue to work together to bring peace, joy and justice into the lives of others, and that we will continue to proclaim the good news of our Saviour Jesus Christ, born in a shed without a bed.
The ‘Bear’ Necessities
We have a family tradition that all newborn babies receive the gift of a teddy bear for their first Christmas. I still have my teddy bear and although he has stitches in his paw, he continues to be a faithful companion in his pride of place on my bedroom windowsill. The teddy bear was seemingly named in honour of President Theodore Roosevelt, after he refused to shoot a young bear cub that had been captured during a hunting trip in November 1902. This act of compassion led to the manufacture of one of the world’s favourite toys.
At Emmanuel, we have been entrusted with the care of a very special, rather huge teddy bear, which has come to live amongst our community for a short time. And what a wonderful time he is having with visits to the swimming baths, the fire station, and choir rehearsals and has even had his very own coffee morning. We are using Rev. Bear of course as a means to raise money for this year’s ‘All we can’ Harvest Appeal to support people across the world living with poverty and injustice. Look out for photos of Rev Bear’s adventures in our Christmas edition!
Last March, as part of our Mothering Sunday service, I showed an extract from the film ‘Paddington’. Paddington as we all know was a bear who arrived at Paddington Station bearing a label around his neck saying simply; ‘Please look after this bear, thank you’. And so the Brown Family and their housekeeper and various other characters that Paddington meets along the way, welcome Paddington, a stranger, into their home. They clothe him and feed him and help him to find his way in the world, and they do this with love.
In Matthew 25:35 Jesus says to us, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me’. As we continue to have fun and fellowship welcoming Rev Bear into our community in Ormskirk, may we too remember the words of Jesus who preached a message of love and compassion for all people. And thank you everyone for welcoming Rev Bear into your hearts and your homes. A little bit of madness is good for us all!
Rest & Reflection
July has arrived already and our thoughts, certainly for our young people, will turn to the holidays. Mark and I are very excited to be attending our first Boys Brigade camp in Wales! But even if you are not going away, it is good at this time of year to consider a period of rest and reflection. By and large, as a society we do not readily value rest and reflection. Despite the fact that we now have the electronic aid of dish washers, washing machines etc. to do our domestic tasks for us, the internet to shop for us and emails to communicate with people for us, we still don’t seem to have enough hours in the day. I admit to sometimes struggling to find the time to sit down, pray and take time out of the ‘busyness’ of life to simply reflect.
In God’s eyes rest and reflection has value, worth and purpose and this was evidenced in the life of Jesus. As Luke tells us in chapter 5:15-16,
“The news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
It’s interesting that Jesus withdrew from the crowds just when he was most in demand. There were thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of people waiting for Jesus to heal them, to teach them, to bless them, primed, ready. The opportunity and need were great. And yet, Jesus was nowhere to be found. Why? Well because Jesus understood that in order to accomplish the purpose for which God had sent Him, he had to remain spiritually strong. And that required regular times of prayer and meditation, regular times of rest and recuperation. Likewise in Mark’s gospel 6:30-32 we read “The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ’Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.”
Jesus did not demand, nor desire, that his followers worked to the point of exhaustion and burn-out. Jesus understood that they needed periods of rest in order to remain strong, just as we do.
One of the two most important functions of rest is to allow us the time to listen to God. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of daily life we don’t hear the still, small voice of God. We lose the joy and the inspiration of simply being in his presence. I recently spent 2 days on a retreat in Harwarden. During the stay I was actually given time to go away with the instruction to stand alone in an open space and meditate on God. And boy did I find it hard, with my butterfly brain flitting between what was happening at home and lists of jobs to attend to. But I also heard God speak to me in the conversations I had with friends during mealtimes, through walking in the park looking with awe and wonder at the beautiful surroundings, and through studying scripture and coming together in prayer.
Secondly, rest is important to remind us of who we are, to reaffirm our humanity as men and women made in the image of God. God does not value us simply by the sum of what we accomplish. We have value because God is our Father, and because in Christ we are his children. Rest helps us to maintain our perspective on our place in the grand scheme of things. It reminds us that we are totally dependent on God. In Isaiah 30:15, we read, “This is what the Sovereign Lord , the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.”
So as we embark upon the holiday season, I pray that at home or away, we will have the opportunity to enjoy precious time doing nothing but appreciating the glory of God and what he has done for us. And on camp I’m going to savour the opportunity to spend precious time with our young people and their families and leaders, as we take time out for relaxation, some rest (perhaps!!), but definitely fun and fellowship in the presence of God.
May God continue to bless us all,
May the Force…
I can hardly believe that it is May already. As the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun, and Mark and I are taking such pleasure from being part of the worshipping community at Emmanuel!
May is an interesting month! According to the web, May is apparently, somewhere in the world, the national month in which people celebrate their pets. It is also healthy vision month to remind everyone to get their eyes checked regularly and motorcycle safety month. May also marks the end of Spring. And don’t forget ‘Star Wars’ – May the fourth (force) be with you!
But of course May is a very special month for two other reasons. Firstly it was on Wednesday, May 24, 1738, that John Wesley experienced assurance of his salvation. Wesley wrote in his journal that at about 8:45 p.m. “while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
Then on Thursday, May 25th, we will celebrate Ascension Day. Ascension Day is the 40th day of Easter, occurring 39 days after Easter Sunday and commemorates Jesus’ ascension into heaven.
What is the link between these? Well, when John Wesley edited the Book of Common Prayer for use by Methodists, he deleted nearly all of the Anglican’s Holy Days that weren’t Sundays, except Good Friday, Christmas Day and Ascension Day. Wesley believed that God has personally reconciled the believer to himself through the atoning life and death of Christ. It is through faith that we receive Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King. As we celebrate the ascension of Christ we acknowledge the reality of the fullness of Christ’s reign now and in eternity.
And so, following our Easter celebrations we continue to journey in faith with Christ, our Saviour. May we continue to have fun finding continuing renewed ways of sharing our faith, of being Christ’s disciples and moving forward as the people God wants us to be.
May God continue to bless us all
He Is Risen!
A week ago we gathered as a church community at the start of Holy week.
As the week has progressed, we have met in fellowship, shared a Passover meal, reflected upon Christ’s crucifixion, formed a human cross, sung and face painted as a witness to the people of Ormskirk, and decorated the cross and filled the church with flowers ready for worship today.
We have truly journeyed with Christ together, thank you everyone
For Everything There Is a Season
But at this time of year, there is something else very beautiful, but almost hidden in the shadow of the building – a crop of snowdrops. If ever we wanted a sign and assurance that Spring will follow Winter, we have only to look at the snowdrops that appear, at times in the most unexpected of places.
The Book of Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that, “for everything there is a season, and a time for every activity under heaven.” In verse 11 we read how God “has made everything beautiful in its time.” Everything we have done, are doing, and seek to do is a beautiful part of the plans God has for us. It is God who continues to weave the threads that make up the tapestry of our lives in service to him.
As the seasons change, we experience the cyclical nature of our discipleship as we journey into Lent. The season of Lent is a time of prayerful reflection, a time when we can examine the thoughts of our hearts and minds as we focus upon the journey of Jesus to the pain and suffering of his crucifixion, and the glory and joy of his resurrection. It is a time for reflecting upon the past, evaluating the present and looking forward to the future in continued communion with Christ.
And so I pray that as a body of Christ’s followers, we will continue to reminisce together and learn from the past years of our heritage. I pray that we will take time to reflect upon how we seek to love God and serve our fellow neighbour in the world today. But I also pray that throughout that process, we will continue to encourage one another as we look forward to the beautiful future of our Church that God has planned for us, so that like our tower, which projects over our townscape, we too will continue to project God’s love into our local community and wider world.
May God continue to bless us all,
A Thought for December
As we recently gathered on Remembrance Sunday to honour all those who gave of their lives and suffered as a result of past wars, we looked to the past. We remembered especially those who died at the Somme in this the centenary year of the battle. This act of remembering drew us to a realisation of the present, of how many are still suffering today because of conflict and unrest. But then we looked again to words from the past, words that are a part of our present and give us hope for the future. In the Book of Isaiah chapter 9, verses 5-7 we read these wonderful words;
‘A child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.’
This Christmas as we look at the sparkle of the beautiful trees in our Christmas Tree Festival, we will be encouraged to consider ‘The Spirit of Christmas’. As we reflect upon what Christmas is really all about, I encourage us all to consider past, present and future. There will be some in our community who may be grieving the loss of loved ones, whose memories of Christmas are not always happy ones. There will be some in our community for whom the present may be difficult, perhaps because of financial worries, who find themselves alone, or who are living in difficult domestic situations.
But for us as a Church family, the Spirit of Christmas is about helping the people around us to have hope for the future. It’s about offering practical support, it’s about prayer, it’s about telling and witnessing to the message of love and hope of the Prince of Peace, born in a lowly stable that we may know God’s presence in the world. That is the best present we can offer our fellow brothers and sisters.
In the new year we will have the opportunity to discern where God is leading us in 2017, how he hopes to guide and inform our future so that we can truly witness his love to one another and those of our community and the wider world. What a tremendous gift that is!
And so I pray that this Christmas we will all know the joy of the Christ child. May we know peace and love, and as we remember his birth, may we all feel ‘The True Spirit of Christmas’ in our hearts, not just at Christmas, but in the future days that are yet to come.
On behalf of myself, Mark, Rebecca, Alasdair, Chris, Ellie, Connor and Leana,
May we wish you all every Christmas blessing,