Jenny’s letter 3rd December

Dear Friends,

When you read this, the Christmas Fair will be over and the Tree Festival in full swing. I have been so impressed by everyone’s efforts this year, particularly as some of the volunteers who are key to making everything happen have been forced to take a temporary back seat through health issues. It’s been good to get some new people on board.

The Christmas trees are truly spectacular. Every year someone tells me that it’s the best festival that they have ever seen – the magic of 80 thoughtfully decorated trees, the most we have ever had, is a sight to behold. Do make sure that you call in and have a look and bring your friends and neighbours too.

At 4.00 pm on Sunday afternoon, we will have an Advent Service in church, held by the light of trees and candles. It’s a quiet service, a time for hearing readings and reflection. It is an opportunity to come away from the hustle and bustle of an early start to Christmas and mark the start of the Advent Season.

Have you noticed how the commercial world has turned calendars into a season of gifting? You can count down with chocolates, perfumes, gin, whisky, beauty products, to name but a few. I still remember the calendars that I had as a child. My mum used to put them onto a light frame and as we opened a window each day, so the light shone through and illuminated the picture. Just thinking about it reminds me of the excitement that brought when I was little.

The church, with our Advent candles, appears to count down too. However, the focus of the church is to look towards the second coming of Christ. In Matthew’s gospel we hear the command to ”…be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” [Matthew 24.42] What does that alertness look like? Advent is the season in which we take time to consider how far the lives that we lead, the words that we use, the actions we take and the spiritual practices we undertake are fit for ‘The day of the Lord’. Since the earliest writing in the Bible there has been reference to the Day of the Lord. In the Old testament this is seen as a time when God intervenes in history and his wrath (a righteous anger that comes out of holiness) is poured out on those who are unbelieving.

In the New testament we might understand this ‘day’ more fully as a moment when Christ will return and God will punish evil and fulfil all his promises. From that moment “…God’s dwelling place [will be] among the people,and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” [Revelation 21.3-4.] Though the Bible makes it clear that there will be judgement, those who know Christ will not be harmed. Jesus says, ‘You will be hated by all because of name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.’ [Luke 21. 17-19].

At this time of year we rightly take comfort from the knowledge that God became man and lived on earth. Emmanuel means God with us. We see glimpses of his kingdom here now and for some we are that light in the darkness. We are reminded in Paul’s letter to the Philippians that we should let our “…gentle spirit be known to all people. The Lord is near.” [Philippians 4.5] As you journey through Advent observe where God is working. Observe how you are given the opportunity to be gentle and kind, the light in the darkness, the hope where there is none.

My thanks for all you have done and all that you will do in the name of St Barnabas. I know it is tiring but is also part of the work of the Lord. It is good to share in that with you all.

Wishing you every blessing,

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