Every Sunday at 11 am Family Church is held. On the third Sunday of the month Holy Communion is celebrated at this service. (Please note that occasionally services take place at Brookmans Park URC – check our Calendar page)
As we are a joint pastorate, our Minister leads us in worship on the second and third Sundays of the month.
On other Sundays we benefit from welcoming to our pulpit a wide range of preachers all of whom have strong links with our church.
A Message from our Minister (December 2018)
As I write, the end of the church year is approaching. Advent is nearly upon us.
We wait again for the advent of our Lord!
Amid the glitter of Christmas preparations it is all too easy to forget that we are
a people who wait. With the return of Christ we are promised that all suffering
and strife will come to an end.
In the mean time we must keep the people of Yemen, Syria and South Sudan
in our thoughts as we celebrate the season.
This will not and should not prevent us from joyfully marking the birth of our
Saviour and the many gifts God has seen it to bestow on us. We do however
live in a time of troubles. These troubles will end only with the second coming.
Seasons Greetings to you all
Geoff Peterson’s Monthly Message.
(Geoff is an adherent of our Church, who writes a regular message for our magazine The News)
Advent, the Good News and Beyond
Last month we dipped into John’s Gospel (chapter 4) and drew some lessons from the two, personal, conversations that Jesus had, one with Nicodemus, the other with a lady by the well in Samaria. You will recall that the Gospel of John was written a little later than the other three and that he wrote primarily for his disciples who were mainly Greeks and non-Jews, and probably new converts to the faith. The chapter (4) ends with Jesus travelling back to Galilee then on up to Cana. Whilst at Cana He healed the son of a Government official, the son being close to death. Just on the promise of saving the boy the man turned back to Capernaum where he lived, to find the boy alive and so he (and all his household) believed. This was the sort of faith that the Jews were unable to accept or show. This story completes chapter 4, so now read the chapter in its entirety, in your Quiet Time and then we will have completed the first four chapters of the Gospel of John.
Chapter five will have to wait for a time because this month there is a great Christian event to celebrate as we enter Advent. Advent is the four-week period that leads up to Christmas Day -and the Christmas story does not appear in the Gospel of John. The other three Gospels do tell us of the Birth of Jesus, albeit different parts of the great story.
Firstly however, to be orderly, we look at the Gospel accounts in order and as they appear in our Bible and see how they treat the Birth of Jesus, the announcement of his coming, and the arrival of the Son of God into our midst.
Matthew starts his account with the words ‘this is a list of the ancestors of Jesus Christ. A descendant of David a descendant of Abraham’, notice that Jesus is a ‘descendant’ of the greatest King Israel had known and a `descendant’ of the Father of the people, Abraham. He also tells us that Jesus’ mother was Mary who was ‘engaged to be married to Joseph’. In our culture we understand a meaning of ‘betrothal’ or ‘engaged’, in Semitic culture it referred to the payment of the bride money as the important contract date. Other facts that Matthew tells us is that Joseph had a vision about the baby, that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, there were visitors `from the east’, and that the family had to flee to Egypt, then returned – and that is the extent of the record from Mathew.
What of Mark? The Gospel of Mark begins with the two statements ‘This is the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God’ and that is it! It was sufficient for John Mark to just make this statement and then he continues into the Good News and the ministry of Jesus the Christ – Mark is the short and sharp Gospel!
The Gospel of Luke is a measured and much fuller account, there is a lot of detail as befits a professional person. First Luke starts with a group of announcements of what is to come. He begins with the birth of John, to be the Baptist and the forerunner of the Son of God. Whilst Zechariah is in the Temple in Jerusalem serving God, Gabriel tells him that he is to have a son, and to call him John. Six months later Gabriel visits Mary of Nazareth, who is promised to Joseph (a descendant of King David) and tells her of her special assignment. Forthwith Mary travels up country to the country home of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Elizabeth confirms the Good News that Mary is to be the mother of the Lord. Mary is ecstatic and sings the song that we now know as the Magnificat in both joy and anticipation.
Then he describes a group of events around the births. Luke starts with the birth of John and at that time the prophecy made by Zechariah, the father of John, that the Saviour of the world was about to be born. The time of the Census of Governor Augustus is recorded as it fixes the time of the great event – Jesus is born. The Census required that men had to travel to the city of their descendants and since Joseph was a descendant of King David the family had to travel to Bethlehem, so the twenty-eighth descendant of King David was born in King David’s town, truly the King of kings.
Next follows the Shepherds story. Upon the birth of Jesus a group of shepherds visit him because an angel had told them that their Saviour, the Christ, was to be born there, in Bethlehem. Luke records this acknowledgment as well, not just the birth of a baby but of a King and a Saviour. Finally, Luke tells us of the two incidents in the Temple at Jerusalem when Jesus is named. Simeon, a devout onlooker, prophesied that Jesus was the Messiah and destined to be the Saviour of the world. Anna, a prophetess, made a similar statement.
Jerusalem being only a few miles from Bethlehem, the family then continued northwards to their home town near Nazareth. Luke does not mention the flight that the family had to make to Egypt.
These then are the Christmas events as described by the three gospel writers, and this is the record which is preserved for us in the Scriptures. So, in summary, what do we learn and what names does Jesus carry? In many places in the Old testament we are told that the people of God needed a Saviour. They needed saving from their bad ways. They were a selfish people not caring for others, they were wicked towards one another, they had evil behaviour – all collectively called ‘Sin’. They were promised that a Saviour would come in the fullness of time. Matthew places that time and Jesus’ relationship to King David. Mathew tells us that Jesus was ‘born of a virgin’ and was to be called Immanuel or ‘God with us’. Mark, always in a hurry, tells us that Jesus is ‘the Son of God’ and is ‘the Good News’, then Luke tells us some other components like Jesus is Lord. is Christ (Messiah), is Saviour, is Son of the most high God, and is ‘King of Kings’ and who is the One pointed to in Prophecy.
The beauty of the fourth Gospel is that John carries this theme through to our present day. John makes the Gospel story universal and shows that it is not just for the Jews but for all mankind. The Greek world was looking for the meaning of life and its purpose, it was looking for a God or gods, and Greek thoughts and quests guide much of our modern thought.
John gives a reason and meaning to the ‘Logos’ or ‘Word’ and he brings the message of Salvation. The Good News is that the Baby was, and is, God on earth in human body.
The very idea that we need a Saviour too, is a wonderful extension of the Christmas storyand indeed is the reason for the event of Christmas. It is the provision that God has made for us, his children, for our saving to eternity.
I wish you a blessed Christmas¬time and then a blessed start to the New Year. From the new year we progress to Easter-time and the resurrection of our Lord. The Resurrection of our Lord is a fact, and on that fact our faith is based. Faith continues from here. The real Gift of Christmas is that the Christ is amongst us, and we only have to accept him into our lives and love Him. To do this fully means that life both now and eternally is ours,