Every Sunday at 11 am we have a Family Church Service.
We are continuing with a hybrid Church/Zoom Service, with worship led mainly from the church, but occasionally from home (via Zoom) at the discretion of the worship leader of the day. Most of our congregation is now back in Church – as is our organist!
Hymns are played and sung in church (from behind masks) and those participating at home via Zoom can sing along. Those in church can see those at home on a TV screen and can follow the parts of the Service that are “Zoomed” on the TV screen as well.
We distribute an Order of Service and the Service Hymns via e-mail and include the Zoom log-in details which change for each service. If you would like to receive the weekly invitation e-mail, please let us know with an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
On the first & third Sunday of the month Holy Communion is celebrated at this service. Participants in church no longer need to bring their own bread.
An edited video of our weekly Service can be viewed on our Services Page.
November – On behalf of the Elders
As we approach the end of the year, we can give thanks that by working together countries have largely overcome Covid-19. However, by contrast power hungry men in Russia, the Middle East and parts of Africa are disrupting the lives of their neighbours by waging war, and as we enter the season of Advent it is clear that the need for Jesus to bring peace and compassion to this divided world is greater than ever.
During Advent, as well as the four special Sunday services leading up to Christmas Day which this year falls on a Sunday, we have a lunchtime piano and cello recital and charity lunch, our carol service, two visiting choirs, Phoenix, and a watch night service on Christmas Eve, so a busy time. If any of your friends would like to come to any of the above, do please bring them along.
Let us not forget among the festivities of this secular world that Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem of Judea, that God came to us as a baby and lived among us before dying on a cross.
But Christmas is also a time for families to get together so I wish you and yours a very happy Christmas and good health and happiness in the new year.
And talking of which, since this edition of The News extends to January as well, may two of our resolutions be to give of our time and talents to the Church as we are able and witness to our community so that our numbers grow again to match those in pre-Covid times.
on behalf of the Elders
The Festive Season and then Resolution time
-Joy to the world!
Last month- November – has always seemed to me to be the sombre month of the year, the time when we remember the Armistice of WW1 and Remembrance Sunday; Armistice Day is specific to WW1, and Remembrance Day the time when we remember all other wars and war horrors up to the present time. This month – December – we enter the period of rejoicing, Advent, when we celebrate the gift of a Saviour, the Lord Jesus, and the birth of the Son of God amongst his peoples.
It is an amazing thing that God the Creator of the Universe, and of life itself, should choose to send his Son to live amongst Mankind to show us that the Creator God loves us so much. It is profound but it is true, The Resurrection of Jesus at that first Easter time is the ultimate proof. Once we have welcomed him into our own personal lives, we realise the truth of this gracious love for us, surely further and living proof of his Resurrection.
Last month I talked of being ‘’atone’’ with God, this month I offer you the Assurance of this profound fact of His presence as we celebrate the Nativity of Jesus. In the month of January we celebrate the birth of the New Year, an ideal time to dedicate ourselves to following the risen Christ more closely. Year end is a double celebration time
In preparation for the joyous season I suggest a short review of the Christmas story, as recorded in our Bible which is our primary source of the record of events. There are four records to refer to contained in the four Gospels at the beginning of the New Testament; namely Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. To use the familiar phrase from ‘’Strictly’’ in ‘no particular order’, it makes sense to start at the Gospel that I see as the one containing the spiritual understanding as John the Apostle sees it. John starts with the profound statement that Jesus is the ‘Logos’ or ‘the reason for being’ that the Greeks were looking for. Next he continues with the account of Jesus, as an adult, being baptised in the river Jordan by John (the Baptist). There is no account of Jesus and his birth, however that opening is worth reading and pondering upon.
In the beginning the Word already existed; the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
From the very beginning the Word was with God, through him God made all things; not one thing in all creation was made without him.
The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to people.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.
What a profound statement, and from a simple fisherman!
Mark is the shortest Gospel; it was probably the first account to be written. It would appear that Mark was in a hurry to record all that he knew of the life of the Saviour before the memories faded from his, and his other friend’s memories. Mark may well be the young man who fled from the Garden ‘without his garment’ at the time of Jesus’ arrest. Mark was a companion of Paul on his first Missionary journey, and who later Paul left behind. Mark may well have been related to the Marys who were at the foot of the Cross. Mark does not tell us anything more about the birth of the Lord Jesus, so it is likely that Matthew and Luke had this as a reference script and then filled in other detail that they remembered or gleaned in later years.
What then of the Gospel account of Luke? Luke is writing to Theophilus – addressing him as your Excellency and so as a person of some authority – and was concerned to give him a full and orderly account, as this quote from his Gospel shows:-
Dear Theophilus: Many people have done their best to write a report of the things that have taken place among us.
They wrote what we have been told by those who saw these things from the beginning and who proclaimed the message.
And so, Your Excellency, because I have carefully studied all these matters from their beginning, I thought it would be good to write an orderly account for you.
I do this so that you will know the full truth about everything which you have been taught.
Luke gives us further details as new material. Luke tells of the announcement by an angel of the forthcoming birth of John the Baptist, and then the annunciation of the arrival of Jesus. Luke also tells of the joy in the heart of Mary and Elizabeth and later the story of the Shepherds and Angels and the star.
Last month I told you of the two big bright stars in the present sky, Jupiter and Saturn, did you see them over the month? Well, they are still there and bright. In the last month’s News I also noted the bright and big full moon. The December full moon falls on 8th December and the new December Moon is 23rd December. Did you know that each full moon is named? The December full moon is named the Beaver Moon, so called because it is around the time that beavers begin building their winter homes by making a dam to provide a hide from the cold weather to come.
I digress about stars; I find them so interesting in appearance and in spectral content! However where does the star of Bethlehem come into the narrative? That is in the Gospel account given by Matthew. Matthew starts his Gospel with an ancestry of Jesus Christ, followed by the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem and then the visitors from the East guided by a star. In the vast area of Arabia the night sky tends to be clear and dark and stars are prominent – and here was one that provoked a group of men to find where it was centred, that is some resolve to undertake such a journey! We then get an account of the escape to Egypt in order that the family could grow up in safety and then their return from Egypt to Galilee, and finally settle in Nazareth. Matthew, was the tax collector Levi, will have been a competent scribe as he had to keep records of the collection of taxes for the occupying powers. The account of Mathew, as with Luke, is also probably based on that of Mark but then expanded with his own knowledge of events.
Such are the sources of our knowledge of the great Event which collectively covered:-
- The annunciation of the birth of the coming of Christ and his forerunner John,
- The glad tidings to the mothers to be (and fathers, too) by angels.
- Mary and Elizabeth in their songs of praise for the goodness of their God
- The births
- The shepherds and angels
- The star and its followers
- The escape to the safety of Egypt
- The return to Galilee and Nazareth as Jesus grew up into adulthood.
One of the lovely items that form part of the Christmas celebrations is the singing of Carols and one of my favourites is that of Isaacs Watts ‘’Joy to the World’’. Isaac Watts was a Southampton man, born in 1674 and lived until 1748; he wrote this song in about 1719. The words are based on Psalm 98. I enjoy singing it when it is accompanied by chimes as part of the music accompaniment too! I invite you to enjoy the words, and have a good sing. The first verse tells us that the Saviour has come and to welcome him as King:-
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
let every heart prepare him room
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven, and heaven and nature sing
Next, it tells us that He does reign on this our earth and to sing about it with joy!-
Joy to the earth, the Saviour reigns!
Let us our songs employ,
while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat, repeat the sounding joy.
And finally we are reminded about his love for us:-
He rules the world with truth and grace
and makes the nations prove
the glories of his righteousness
and wonders of his love,
and wonders of his love,
and wonders, wonders of his love.
I wish you a special time of blessing at this time of wonder and joy, and as you welcome your king as a baby; and then make resolve to serve Him more closely in 2023.
What a wonderful God we have!