Advent

Advent can easily be overlooked, but it’s an important season in the Church calendar. It’s a time of looking forward, not just to the holiday season, but beyond.
700 years before Jesus was born, Isaiah looked forward to a time when God would send a special King, who would ‘redeem’ God’s people. That’s a very churchy word, and we hear it a lot at Christmas time – Jesus, our Redeemer.
To redeem something or someone means to buy back something held or claimed by someone else, to recover something that has been pledged, to free a captive, by paying the amount due, the ransom price.
Even in Isaiah’s day, people felt pulled to act in ways they knew were wrong. Human nature, peer pressure, the busyness of life got in the way of them living as they knew God would want. They couldn’t seem to help themselves, and things kept going wrong for them. God promised to put that right, one day. God’s great King would come, and he would release us from the things that pull us in the wrong direction; he would pay the price of our freedom from all that separates us from God.
People looked forward to that time. Sometimes it seemed it would never come, but God keeps his promises, and at Christmas we remember the birth of the baby who is that King.
When Christmas comes, our churches will be busy with services. We’ll remember that baby, but that isn’t the end of the story. Jesus did come; he is the King, but still people act in ways that are wrong. The job of the King is not finished yet. And so, in Advent, we look forward to Christmas, but we also look forward to the time when the work will be done, God’s rule will prevail, and God will live with us, in peace and harmony. Many think that’s not going to happen now, after all this time, but God has kept the first part of his promise, and we can be sure that the second part is on its way, one day.
As we celebrate Christmas, let’s thank God for the baby who was born King, and let’s look forward to the day when he rules the whole world and God’s perfect kingdom comes.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Caroline Franks, Reader (Licensed Lay Minister)

Lest we forget...

How do you try to remember significant times and events? Perhaps you put photographs into albums, or create scrapbooks of memories to look back on. For some, this offers comfort in times of bereavement or it can remind us of happy times. Recently I’ve been transferring old family videos to DVDs so that future generations of my family will be able to look back to see what their ancestors looked like and how they lived.

In this year of 2018, we will be looking back 100 years to the end of the Great War, as it was then innocently called. Specifically, back to the eleventh day of the eleventh month, and on the eleventh hour, when fifty-two months of bloody conflict came to an end as Allied and German leaders signed the Armistice which brought an end to the fighting on the Western Front.
Thousands of people will keep silence to bring to mind the countless thousands that have lost their lives in many wars, and especially this year, in World War 1, as it was known when it became clear that this wasn’t the war to end all wars.

I believe that it is important to remember the sacrifice made by ordinary men and women to ensure a free future for us all. Remembrance Sunday this year happens to fall on 11th November, making it especially significant. Do join us at one of the Remembrance services in our Benefice.

At this time of remembrance, we often hear the words in the Bible that Jesus spoke: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus also said: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

That is how God shows His great love for all of us; He came to us in human form, as Jesus, and gave His life so that those who believe in Him would not die, but would rise to eternal life: a life with Him in heaven, where ‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ (From the Bible, in the Book of Revelation, chapter 21, verse 4)

Marion Smith, Benefice Administrator

Churchwardens

A postcard from St Mary’s:

Dear All,
Having a great time, weather has been great, and the scenery and architecture is lovely, and the people I’ve met have all been very friendly.
Best wishes
Angie

I hope you don’t mind my sharing what I’ve been learning over the last few months about the role of a churchwarden. It has made me in awe of all the experienced churchwardens in the benefice and those who have undertaken the role in the past (and who are still providing support and encouragement to others).

Did you know the office of a churchwarden is a very old one and since the thirteenth century has been legally recognised?

A churchwarden is also a bishop’s officer and is accountable to the bishop. There are several things which must occur to become a churchwarden. Not least, being nominated by the congregation at the annual parochial church meeting (APCM), the person then attends the archdeacon’s visitation. All diocesan churchwardens attend this at the beginning of their first year of service and are required to sign a document and make a public declaration to faithfully and diligently perform the duties of a churchwarden.
As a member of the congregation I always came into to church having confidence that the service would help me feel close to God through spoken words and worship. I had never thought about how it happens. With the grace of God, the rector, lay readers, members of the PCC, finance committee, treasurers, church secretaries, benefice administrator, churchwardens, director of music and other unnamed people make this happen. A churchwarden represents the congregation and works with the rector on items which include how the Benefice is run, ensuring that worship happens and that the church building and churchyard are maintained, repaired and insured. Items such as the Inventory, terriers, registers, logbooks, quinquennial reports, fabric reports, insurance and risk assessments are all completed to try and ensure the safety and comfort of those who come into the church.

Why, you might ask, am I writing this?

Because I had no idea and thought you might like to know.
Through prayer and guidance of our previous rector, Alan, I felt I was being called to serve God in a different way. It was suggested this might be as a churchwarden. I had attended some churchwarden meetings last year, listening to discussions about the last pieces of the building work we had done last year, but did I know what to do if the lights failed in the bell tower and the switch was fifteen feet up, or the new toilet door showed empty when it was busy (could be an embarrassment)- NO. However, I am learning very slowly.
But most importantly I have learnt that our church buildings need to be welcoming and there for everyone in the community, and to be a signpost of what accepting God’s love can do for each person who enters through the doors.

Angie, Churchwarden

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