This week David and Jo discuss “Being Ready”, Advent, Walsall FC, and Jesus rocks .(more…)
There’s a relatively new Phenomenon on the telly in these days before Christmas. Have you noticed over the last few years, there has begun to be an informal competition for the most clever/touching/dramatic narrative Christmas advert? Two penguins competes with an extensive Christmas table from a budget supermarket and a chain stores marauding fairies and a carrot driving an articulated lorry (where have the Christmas angels gone?). There are stories to tug at the heart strings and hint at the Christmas that everybody wants: A cosy treacly family time where everyone gets the present they want, the food is plenteous at the table, the logs are burning on the fire and all’s well with the world.
Could anyone dare criticise this sort of sentimentality without risking the accusation of being Scrooge like? Well, I suppose one could point out that it won’t be the Christmas experience of many in the world, even in our own country, this year. And What I think we have to pinch ourselves and bear in mind is that all adverts have only one goal really: the stores want to make money out of us this Christmas. The point about Dicken’s A Christmas Carol was not that there should be no brakes on the generosity, for He who had all things gave them up for our sake.
Now I enjoy a good advert like the rest of us, and I certainly don’t want to give this reflection a “Bah humbug” headline; but if I was to single out one aspect of a Christian Christmas that might be distinctive, then it might be to reflect upon our generosity. I have no doubt that we’ll all be generous to family and friends; but what about generosity to the unlovely and the “undeserving”? When preaching about generosity, Jesus said “For if you love only those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?” Matthew 5.46) “Freely, freely you have received; freely, freely give” (Matthew 10.8)
I want us all to have thoroughly enjoyable Christmas: good cheer all round. Nonetheless, perhaps we who remember that Christ was given freely by God to the world can also think: What gifts can I give this year, which are generous and freely given, to those who are in need, and without any strings attached at all? For this is truly to honour the Christ Child and the spirit of Christmas.
We will be honouring the Christ Child through the many church based activities in the run up to Christmas across our church communities. We would love to share this with you all and would love to welcome you especially at our Christmas Carol, and Nativity services and at services on Christmas Eve for Midnight Mass and on Christmas Day.
May I wish every blessing for the coming Holy Season.
Our very own Rev. David Baldwin makes an appearance on the Church of England podcast this week.
“Listen to hardworking Christians working on mission and growth in rural England. To read the full rural mission and growth learning report, including helpful examples of good practice, useful ideas and approaches, resulting from the February 2018 Renewal & Reform Rural Ministry Seminar, visit www.churchofengland.org/rural.”
You can listen to the podcast via the SoundCloud player below.
As part of the Archbishops call to prayer between Ascension and Pentecost known as Thy Kingdom Come we have over the past years undertaken a number of initiatives such as Prayer Walks in each of the parishes and Prayer walking over a number of days between all 15 churches. We will, of course, be fully participating in this year’s call to prayer in a number of new ways and Jo talks about it in this article – Thy Kingdom Come by Jo Neary.
I will also be undertaking a day of prayer and reflection whilst walking around our 15 churches this approximately 28 – 30 miles dependant on how lost I get along the way. I will be doing this as a sponsored event as I wish to create a Mission Fund for Jo and parishes to call upon as we continue to grow God’s Kingdom. Four years ago the Team Council agreed to a fund being set up but more than half of our parishes were reluctant to help fund it. This will take place on Thursday 17th May so please watch out for more information over the coming weeks and if you feel able please sponsor my attempt either by completing the sponsorship forms which are in of our churches or through the Pay Pal account which can be accessed below.
If you would like to donate to my sponsored walk please click the button below. This will take you securely to PayPal where you can make a donation via PayPal itself, or with a card if you do not have an account. This is a totally safe and secure process.
Thank you in advance for your kind donation.
When the two Marys went to the tomb that first Easter morning, the last thing they expected was to find it empty. After all, they had just witnessed Jesus crucified, along with most of their dreams. Now duty-bound, they came to prepare his body for burial.
That day they did not come to receive, they came to give. and there is no nobler human aspiration. Service prompted by duty is the hallmark of true discipleship. That is why God calls to love, expecting nothing in return: to give to those who will never thank us; to forgive those who refuse to reciprocate.
As God watched these two woman walking to the tomb that early morning, he had a surprise in store for them. The Bible says that the angel, who ‘went to the tomb, and rolled the stone away,’ said, ‘Come…see the place where his body was’. The angel did not move the stone so that Jesus could get out. The one who conquered death can certainly move a rock. No, he moved the stone so that the woman could look in and rejoice. Why? Because God honours faithfulness: When she was long past childbearing, Sarah believed God and became the mother of nations; when his failure was overwhelming and public, David repented and was pardoned and restored; when the road was darkest for the two Marys, an angel showed up and resurrected their hopes.
If today, or any time in the future, your way seems full of sadness, even despair; if it seems that everything you had hoped and dreamed of is turning into dust before your eyes; when things seem hopeless – don’t get discouraged and don’t give up. The answer is on the way. God always honours faithfulness, and when necessary , he even sends angels. You may not get the answer you had expected, or the solution you have prayed for – but god heeds your prayers and will be faithful to you – and you can trust him to know what and when is best.
This has become ever clearer in our area over the past few years through prayer we saw new ‘things’ starting to happen, new avenues starting to spring open. When we took our minds off prayer these avenues began to narrow and ‘things’ appeared to stop happening. So we re-committed to prayer and the spirit has begun to move in wonderfully surprising ways again, surely this is God being faithful to us because he sees us being faithful to him. So let us continue in our commitment to prayer, not because we seek any reward, but because God calls us to love and to give to those who will never thank us and to forgive those who refuse to reciprocate.