Advent Sunday on 3rd December starts a new church year, when the church calendar turns full circle.Â Advent is a time of looking forward:Â looking forward to Godâ€™s arrival to live among us, Jesus coming to earth (Christmas).Â This is a celebration of Godâ€™s work of salvation for the world, moving on to the crucifixion and resurrection, which we recall around Easter.Â Â
We talk much about following Jesus as Christians.Â So, we rightly focus on the ways He behaved in different situations, and we seek to follow His example.Â We focus on how his life was a journey to the cross, and beyond that to the resurrection, and as Christians we recognise that our lives might go along a similar road.Â But, apart from simply referring to going Jesusâ€™ way, have you thought about the direction you are going in, as you follow Jesus?
A little while ago, I found myself walking in the countryside.Â I noticed on the grass at the foot of some trees some small, round, green objects.Â I picked a few up.Â They were too small and round and soft to be like acorns.Â They were too large to be like ordinary seeds.Â They had clearly fallen off a nearby tree or bush, but I do not have any idea what they came from.Â They were so soft and round, that I held one in my hand for quite a while.Â As my walk progressed, I looked at it repeatedly. Read more...
What do you think of when you hear the word â€˜Churchâ€™?Â A building?Â A group of people?Â Well, the word is used for both.Â And when people gather together to be â€˜Churchâ€™, what do they do?Â What does worship look like?Â We tend to think of singing hymns, reading the bible, saying prayers, sitting (or standing or kneeling) in pews, with clergy wearing different sort of clothes.Â The list goes on and on.Â
I am writing this just a few days after the wonderful fundraising concert many members of this church took part in to raise funds for the British Red Cross fund to support the victims of the terrible Grenfell Tower Fire (see page 10 for more about that). It was a tremendous concert, not only because of the Â£460 raised for such a good cause, but also because it brought together people of all ages from around the community, in concern for the plight of others who live hundreds of miles away, whom we might never meet.Â (read more)
I am writing this not long after the parish â€˜Bring and Shareâ€™ meal we held to celebrate Trinity Sunday, which as Holy Trinity Church is particularly special to us.Â While Bring and Share is a good enjoyable formula for a meal together which many parishes are very familiar with, it has been less common here in Blacon, because in previous years we have had meals (extremely capably) catered for us by members of the Social Committee.
We serve a God who gives.Â He gave his only Son.Â He gives us His love and mercy.Â He gives us the whole of creation for our blessing and enjoyment.Â And the Bible describes how God gives enormously generously.Â Godâ€™s generosity is far more abundant than we can get our minds around.Â He gives us when we donâ€™t deserve anything at all.Â He gives in such enormous quantities it overflows.Â And He wants us to give with just the same attitude.
It is always so much more compelling to experience something first-hand.Â Witnessing that goal scored when standing a matter of yards away is much more memorable than seeing it screened on the TV.Â Talking face-to-face with a person has more impact than hearing second-hand about a someoneâ€™s opinions.Â
The last Sunday in February, the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, is traditionally called Quinquagesima, literally meaning â€˜fiftiethâ€™, because it is fifty days before Easter.Â Â I love the Collect (special prayer) for that Sunday: â€˜Almighty Father,Â whose SonÂ was revealed in majestyÂ before he suffered deathÂ on the cross:Â give us grace to perceive his glory,Â that we may be strengthenedÂ to suffer with himÂ and be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory.â€™
I write this at a time of very mixed emotions, we are celebrating the joy of Christmas with many children from local schools â€“ young faces glowing with the excitement about the birth of the baby Jesus.Â Their enthusiasm is quite infectious.Â