Advent: I wonder if your business is increasing as we approach the celebration of the “Lord’s first coming?” perhaps you have a list of things to be done from cards and presents to preparing your home for visitors (there may be fifteen family in the vicarage!), to food shopping. Hopefully there’s opportunity to take time out to meditate on the birth narratives, the Old and New testament passages about Jesus birth. An advantage I have is needing to do preparation for Collective Worship (previously Assembly) at Cromford and Holy Trinity Schools. I was also given the theme of trust for Collective Worship after half term. Zechariah doesn’t trust, Joseph eventually did, Mary did straight away, the shepherds did and went to Bethlehem to see what the angel had told them and thousands of them had sung about. Our congregations have many different stories about how we have come to trust in Jesus. To believe what He said and did from birth to Ascension. Do pray about opportunities to share your trust, your faith in the Saviour with family and friends, strangers too. Keep it simple and clear. Perhaps take time out to write some words down to be ready to share your testimony. Publicity is important yet it doesn’t compare to a prayerful personal invitation to a Christmas service.
Advent is also about the Lord’s Second Coming, and there’s a lot to do between now and then. Especially as seen in our series on Justice. The national Church are very much involved in seeking justice. This can be seen especially in Bishop Alastair’s leadership with the Human Trafficking Bill. The problems of Human Trafficking, Migration and Refugees, bad employment and prisons are huge. We can pray but seem helpless in the face of these huge things. If you wish to look at Human Trafficking more there’s a course in the New Year run by the Diocese, see the article elsewhere in this News Letter. There are other things that we can do such as signing petitions (numerous online e.g. www.citizengo.org ) and seeking what to do locally. See Matthew 25 v 31, sheep and goats.
Archbishop Justin Welby: Repeating something from an earlier Nick’s Notes, The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lambeth Lecture began:
“I want to start by saying just two simple sentences about the church.
First, the church exists to worship God in Jesus Christ.
Second, the Church exists to make new disciples of Jesus Christ. Everything else is decoration. Some of it may be very necessary, useful, or wonderful decoration – but it’s decoration.”
As we look to the Lord’s Return let’s continue with the ‘important decoration’ but only as secondary to worshipping Jesus and making new disciples. It’ll be costly of course, but there’s no alternative really. Do you long, however weakly, for more of God and His Spirit, His Presence, His ways? I do. Let’s long for more in daily life and especially when we meet together as His people, His Church on Sunday mornings or at Home Group.
Cromford Community Association: it’s touch and go as to whether the Community Centre stays open. The AGM is on Sunday 4th December at 6.00pm at the Centre. We need more volunteers and more income, and of course lots of prayer please that it will stay open and be a great place for the community.
Memorial Service at St Mary’s: Our first service by all accounts went very well indeed, and 70+ people attended to remember 40+ loved ones. The theme we had was tears of which there are many references in the Psalms. It was celebratory in terms of remembering lost loved ones and looking to a God that loves us and as the Psalm says “collects our tears in a bottle”. A lot of work went into preparation and on the day to ensure it ran smoothly so many thanks to all. After a tea-light had been lit on a table in the chancel by family members for each lost loved one, the church lights were turned off for a moments quiet. The effect of this was enhanced by the illuminated brass cross behind the Lord’s Table. We hope to repeat this service again next year.
Diocesan Clergy Conference: This was as usual very good, Pauline and I both enjoyed the fellowship, the worship and the lectures on John’s Gospel. Over 100 people attend the 2 day event with clergy and church officers from across the Diocese. The Right Reverend David Mursall, retired Bishop of Stafford, filled in at the last moment to replace a speaker who was unable to come. The theme of the conference was ‘Jesus as Resurrection and Life’ from John chapter 11. It was both theoretical theology and applied theology so we are “not only hearers of God’s word but doers”. Hopefully the talks will soon be available from the Diocesan website soon.
Val and I pray that you’ll have a lovely, if busy, Christmas.