Sunday, 30 December 2012

Thought for Christmas 1

In our Gospel reading today we find Jesus at 12 exploring and discovering who is. Just as many of us were doing at 12.

During the 40 days of Christmas our reflections in liturgy have us leaping about from Jesus teaching in the Temple at 12 on Christmas 1 to His Naming and Circumcision on the 1st January at 8 days old. The flight to Egypt is remembered on the 28th December during Holy Innocents and we return to Bethlehem on the 6th January for the visit of the Magi. During the Sundays after Christmas we follow Jesus growing up and beginning his ministry in Galilee and then he return to the Babe being presented at the temple.

This is great for an understanding of the mission and nature of Jesus, but it does mean that we miss the narrative of Jesus growing up. We don't remember a crucified baby or believe that God beamed down at aged 30. We believe in a God who was born, grew up, was part of a family and work out who he is.

God shared in our humanity, all of it - even the messy and uncomfortable bits, so we might share in His divinity.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Holy Innocents

Matthew's gospel tells us the story of the Holy Innocents, which we commemorate today. Herod slaughtered the young children of Bethlehem, whilst Mary and Joseph take the child Jesus to safety in Egypt, Joseph having been warned in a dream of Herod's intentions.

For the first readers of this gospel, the passage would be rich in resonances. Just as the People of Israel, sometimes referred to in the Old Testament as 'God's son', had been led to safety in Egypt, after a massacre of the firstborn from which God's chosen one Moses had been spared, so too Jesus, the Son of God and chosen Messiah, is taken to Egypt and kept safe from slaughter. Jesus 'sums up' the history of Israel, God's history of saving his people; he fulfils and completes it. Just to make the point more forcefully, Matthew mentions that all of this happens in response to someone called Joseph having a dream. This should sound familiar.

So we celebrate today the fulfilment of God's purposes in Christ. But we also remember that those purposes are worked out in a world that is often tragically violent. Massacres are not a thing of the past. The violence of the powerful remains with us; today's papers carry more bleak news from Syria. Refugees still look for places of safety, and often find themselves unwelcome when they get there - the scapegoating and hostility directed at asylum seekers in this country by sections of the media is disgusting, and is something that those of us who worship a Lord presented in the gospel as himself a refugee are bound by our faith to resist.

So today we give thanks for God's plan of salvation, we pray for victims of violence and for refugees, and commit ourselves anew to working for their liberation.

Heavenly Father,
whose children suffered at the hands of Herod,
though they had done no wrong:
by the suffering of your Son
and by the innocence of our lives
frustrate all evil designs
and establish your reign of justice and peace;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Happy St John's Day!

As well as carrying on with our celebrations of Christmas, we keep today the feast of St John the Evangelist. The author of the Fourth Gospel, he is our patron at St John's, so today is a special day for us.

His message that the 'Word was made Flesh' is the Christmas gospel. God became one of us, so that we might have life in its fullness. We need to share that message with those around us.

Almighty God,
  who through your apostle John
  unlocked for us the hidden treasures of your Word,
grant that we may grasp with fuller understanding
  the message he so admirably proclaimed.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
  who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
  one God, for ever and ever.

Christmas in Colindale

Here are some pictures from our Midnight Mass at St Matthias:

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

On the Feast of Stephen!

Today is the Feast of St Stephen, the first Christian martyr. There is an account of his death in the Acts of the Apostles.

Yesterday we remembered God's gift to us of his Son. Today we are reminded that this gift demands a response from us. In St Stephen we see self-giving love answering God's call in the Word Made Flesh.

Give us grace, Lord, to practise what we worship.
Teach us to love our enemies
  as we keep the feast of Saint Stephen,
  who prayed even for the men who stoned him to death.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
  who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
  one God, for ever and ever.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas Sermon from Fr John

He came down to earth from heaven
Who is God and Lord of all,
And his shelter was a stable,
And his cradle was a stall;
With the poor and mean and lowly
Lived on earth our Saviour Holy

There has been much in the public realm recently concerning communication.
Lord justice Leveson enquiry has created a fierce debate with those on the side of the freedom of the press decrying any infringement on their rights to tell the world what they think the world wants to hear: and those on the side of people who's privacy has been invaded, usually at a time of heightened personal crisis or tragedy. It remains to be seen how far this debate will go in changing the nature of our society and the way in which we stay informed.

This month of December marked the 20th anniversary of the first txt message sent. Given  that I expect everyone of us in church has sent or received a txt message it  seems incredible that it they have only been around 20 years. Can you imagine your day without a txt, can you sustain your friendships and express your love and concern or simple delight in another person without txt? I expect for many of us it would seem inconceivable.  From the moment that first text was sent our world and society changed for ever.

And finally there was the tragic results if a hoax call, Mel Grieg and Michael Christian, the Australian DJ’s behind the hoax call to King Edward 7th hospital  . A harmless bit of fun turning into shocking loss, a moment of foolishness having  far reaching  consequences.  For Nurse Jacintha Saldanha it was moment of communication that changed her life for ever and resulted in the terrible consequences of her suicide.

At the heart of the Christmas story is the desire of God to communicate, us his creation his sons and daughters. To send a message, to reach out, to create a story that still has the power to change peoples lives and the life of our world.

But God is no hack, or devious reporter determined to use any means necessary to get his story, his Good News,  into the public domain.
God choose to use a seemingly ordinary event, the birth of a child, to herald an event of world changing proportions.
God choose not to use the wonders of technology, the ability to instantly connect and convince, but the everyday and ordinary around us, dreams, stars and lowly shepherds.
God choose to intervene in human history, a decision that in some people's eyes is as foolish as a hoax call, but one that has far reaching implications, not for death but for life.

This month gave the world another first – the first Tweet by the Pope. Indeed I too have joined the tweeting community by following his example and sent my first tweet two weeks ago.

Some see texting as destructive to traditional forms of communication, and although it is a view that I have a great deal of sympathy with, there is some truth in the claim of those in favour that it is simply another form of communication which has become part of the fabric of our modern world.

Greg Burke, the senior media adviser to the Vatican, explained that the @Pontifex Twitter name was chosen because it means Pope and it also means 'bridge builder'.

Such bridge building through different avenues is part of the Christian tradition. The Christmas story celebrates  a God who communicates in diverse and creative ways –A drama which features the worlds of prophets, angelic visitations, and then supremely, God becoming a human being. “ He came down to earth from heave, Who is God and Lord of all”

It’s the way of building a bridge in a way that human beings can receive and understand. 

Indeed it is estimated that around 8 trillion txts are sent a year, I wonder how many of the worlds 7 billion humans will wish another person a happy Christmas today by sending a txt?

And that would be an interesting challenge, if you have not already risen to it this Christmas, when you have a moment why not send a message of no more than 140 characters – a tweet – to convey all the joy and hope and love that is revealed as we gaze anew on the child born of Mary.

I will finish as I began with words of another well known hymn which we will sing togthter at the end of our service, words that for me  powerfully convey the esense of what our celebration at Christmas is all about

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings
ris’n with healing in his wings;
mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.

And if you are interested that is 195 characters- I think?

Happy Christmas!

The words of my favourite carol say it all:

The great God of heaven is come down to earth,
his mother a Virgin and sinless his birth;
the Father eternal his Father alone:
he sleeps in a manger; he reigns on the throne:
Then let us adore him and praise his great love:
to save us poor sinners he came from above.

A Babe on the breast of a Maiden he lies,
yet sits with the Father on high in the skies;
before him their faces the Seraphim hide,
while Joseph stands waiting, unscared, by his side:

Lo! here is Emmanuel, here is the Child,
the Son that was promised to Mary so mild;
whose power and dominion shall ever increase,
the Prince that shall rule o'er a kingdom of peace:

The Wonderful Counselor, boundless in might,
the Father's own image, the beam of his light;
behold him now wearing the likeness of man,
weak, helpless and speechless, in measure a span:

O wonder of wonders, which none can unfold:
the Ancient of days is an hour or two old;
the Maker of all things is made of the earth,
man is worshiped by angels and God comes to birth:

The Word in the bliss of the Godhead remains,
yet in flesh comes to suffer the keenest of pains;
he is that he was and for ever shall be,
but becomes that he was not, for you and for me.

St Matthias, ready for Midnight Mass

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Eve-the wonder starts

Some of our children their parents have attended our crib service.

A Prayer for Christmas Eve

Come, Lord Jesus, come soon.
In this time of your coming,
  support and console us who trust in your love.
You live and reign with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
  God for ever and ever.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas 'card'

I gave up sending Christmas cards a few years ago and so prepare video reflection card each year. Here's this years!

With best wishes to you and your families (whatever shape they take!) for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Three Christmas nativities in one day!

Barnet Asian Old Peoples Association celebrated the story of Christmas in the Barnet Multi Cultural Centre next door to church. It was an amazing drama, faithfully reading from St Luke's Gospel and spiced with dramatic licence. The youngest performer was 68 years old! See the picture below.
This morning our older children from SMSJ held their annual Christmas carol service with the school choir sounding brilliant and this afternoon it will be the infants turn with their nativity play. What. Blessed day in the parish.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Colindale primary school carol sing

Here are some children from Colindale primary school singing Christmas carols in the Hyde united reform church. This is not a church school and the children are from the many diverse faith communities of our borough. Their singing was full of joy and life. We even had children signing for those who might not able be to hear their beautiful voices.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Christmas lunch on Jesus

Just got in from delivering around 50 vouchers for local residents in the two parishes to have a free Christmas hamper delivered on Saturday. This is an initiative created by Jesus House in Barnet whereby hundreds of hampers are delivered to the most need across the Borough. My first letterbox, at 7.30am on the west Hendon, was proving s little tiresome and I was aware of the early hour and so doing my best to make as little noise as Possible. The door flew open and a very angry young man shouted at me "take your F****hand out of my f**** door before I break it" Maybe not the best start to a bit of neighbourly concern. It's been amazing talking to many who opened their doors to receive their voucher today. One neighbour told me about her struggle with addiction and depression following the intervention of social services who have taken her baby from her earlier this year. This young woman is sharing her hamper with her first born son and an elderly neighbour in the flat beneath her who had his benefits stopped suddenly last week. All of this had been made possible by the inspirational dedication of Ayo and Wonu and their team at Jesus House. Thank you for letting us work with you! If anyone wants to help us with the distribution of hampers we are meeting in West Hendon car park at 10.00am.

Monday, 17 December 2012

O Wisdom!

Today, we move into the second part of Advent, preparing more immediately for our celebration of Christmas. My Christmas decorations are going up today!

Every day during this part of Advent, we say one of the 'O Antiphons' at Evening Prayer. Based on scripture, these express our human longing for Christ. Perhaps you could use them in your own prayers as Christmas approaches:

O Wisdom, O holy Word of God,
you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care:
Come and show your people the way to salvation. (17 December)

O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel,
who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,
who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:
Come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free. (18 December)

O Flower of Jesse’s stem,
you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples;
kings stand silent in your presence;
the nations bow down in worship before you.
Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid. (19 December)

O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel,
controlling at your will the gate of heaven:
Come, break down the prison walls of death
for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death;
and lead your captive people into freedom. (20th December)

O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death. (21st December)

O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart;
O Keystone of the mighty arch of man:
Come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust. (22nd December)

O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver,
desire of the nations, Savior of all people:
Come and set us free, Lord our God.   
  (23rd December)

The popular hymn, 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel' is based on these antiphons.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Poem on Our Lady of Willesden

Our lady of Willseden

Trevor, a member of both of our congregations, has written a poem about the shrine of Our Lady of Willesden, which we visited in August. He has allowed us to share it on this blog:

Black Madonna
Scarred hands and twisted arms
Carved in ebony

Boy child
Created with the same ferocity
That replicated her beauty

Strong arms
Lift him to the passing throng
In a gesture taut with longing

Strong hands
Gnarled but strangely delicate
Fingers cracked by hard work

Holy infant
Made from the same hard block
Cut to create his mother

His hands are different
Soft - reflecting the light
From the ring of votive candles

They are carved in white wood
The grain is faulty
Knots on the polished surface
Contorted like old wounds

The frail Franciscan Friar
Leans his head to the floor
As he kneels before the Icon

Almost indifferent
I pause to light a candle
Before continuing my journey


Just a quick reflection today, as I get ready to go to our Christingle service at St John's this afternoon.

Today is Gaudete Sunday, a day set aside for rejoicing. The words of St Paul's letter to the Phillipians echo in our ears, "Rejoice in the Lord always". We, as Christians, are called to rejoice. This doesn't mean that we should walk around with fixed grins, ignoring the reality of suffering in the world. Rather it means that our lives should be deeply focused on the hope that is ours in Christ. We believe that Christ has come at Christmas, and that Christ will come again in glory.

Whatever we encounter in life, we do so in the context of a hope that history is in God's hands. This gives us reason to rejoice in the depth of our being. It sets us free from hopelessness and despair, and allows us to celebrate in a way that isn't shallow or superficial, but is grounded in the most sure reality of all - the God of love.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Congratulations Michael and Sheila

A wonderful service of Holy Matrimony at St. John this afternoon. Not just ecumenical with three pastors in church and taking part but also father if the groom the rev'd Micaiah Onohwakpo concelebrated and I hope he will join us one Sunday in the new year before he returns to Delta region Nigeria.

Friday, 14 December 2012

An Advent Prayer : The Angelus

Many of us have busy lives, and it can be difficult to find time for prayer.

The prayer known as the Angelus is ready-made for hectic schedules, and has a definite Advent feel to it. Traditionally said at 6am, noon, and 6pm and said throughout the year, except during the Easter season when it is replaced by the Regina Caeli, it can be prayed flexibly.

The Angelus, which can be said silently 'in your head' or out loud fits easily into a few moments during the day. It is an ideal prayer for the middle of the working day, since it reminds us of the Incarnation - God becoming a human being like us and sharing an ordinary working life - and of the need to follow Mary in saying 'yes' to God.

The Angelus

The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with Thee;
Blessed art thou among women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,    Now and at the hour of our death. Amen

 Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
Be it done to me according to your word.
    Hail Mary, etc.

And the Word was made Flesh.
And dwelt among us.
    Hail Mary, etc.

 Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Pour forth, we ask you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

West Hendon Pre-school celebrate Christmas

It's wonderful to see so many parents from our community in church at St. John this morning for their Nativity celebration. Well done to Mariam our manager and Angie our dpt manager and all the staff for another stunning performance of the Christmas story.

The story tells of Maurice the donkey who has his stable invaded by a number of other animals who he shoos away. Then enters Mary and Joseph with their own donkey and a very bright star. Poor Maurice his privacy hopelessly invaded. But of course something miraculous happens in the sable and to Maurice when the Christ child is born and all the animals, and even Maurice inspire if himself get very excited and he learns that it is more fun to make room in his life for others than to be on his own.
The story ends with a word perfect rendition of Away in the manger.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Congratulations Micah Aaron!

We welcomed Micah Aaron into the Church with baptism at St John's on 25th November. We've just had some pictures through!

Congratulations to Micah, and to his parents, Sonia and Aaron!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Disagreements in the Church : Another thought on the Immaculate Conception

St Thomas Aquinas

Thinking this year about tomorrow's feast day, I'm looking back to last month's General Synod and the, often pretty bad tempered, disagreements in our church that preceded and followed it. There are a lot of issues that divide Christians, and divide Christians in the Church of England in particular. Questions about ordination are the most topical, but we also have high profile disagreements about sexuality and about more fundamental doctrine.

There's nothing new under the sun. You only need to pick up a New Testament to see that there were fierce divisions in the Church from the earliest days. Paul is writing to churches sometimes torn apart by factionalism. And in the Middle Ages, way before the divisions of the Reformation era, there were robust disagreements about the faith.

The Immaculate Conception provides a case in point. Arguably the greatest theologian in the Western Catholic tradition, the Dominican St Thomas Aquinas, denied the Immaculate Conception, as that doctrine is understood today - that Mary was preserved from Original Sin. Aquinas held that Mary was as holy as it was possible for a redeemed human being to be, but thought that this did not include freedom from Original Sin. The Franciscan Duns Scotus, on the other hand, argued that Mary was free from Original Sin precisely because of God's redeeming grace. What Jesus did for us by his life, death, and resurrection reaches 'back' in time and preserves Mary from Original Sin. She is not less redeemed by being free from Original Sin, said Scotus, but more redeemed.

The debate carried on, not least through these medieval theologian's respective religious orders. In the end Scotus' view carried the day. In no small part because of its appeal to and effect on the devotional lives of ordinary Christians, belief in the Immaculate Conception became commonplace amongst Catholics in the West (the Orthodox Church has a very different understanding of Original Sin, so the doctrine wouldn't make much sense to them - although they agree that Mary was uniquely holy). Eventually in 1854 Pope Pius IX declared "the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin".

These days this is the view of the Roman Catholic Church. It is also the view of many Anglo-Catholics (including me!). Christians who don't accept the doctrine at least have a clearer understanding what the doctrine is supposed to express - the depth of God's redeeming grace and its capacity to reach 'back' in time - and have been able to enter into fruitful dialogue on this basis. A good example of this can be seen in the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission report on Mary. We have all grown because centuries of debate enabled us to reach a clearer position.

We shouldn't get all pious about this and see this as some kind of harmonious 'development of doctrine' with never a harsh word said - saintly and brilliant though Aquinas and Scotus were as individuals. In the background was a good deal of one upmanship and power politics between religious orders. And historically, belief in and observance of the Immaculate Conception varied tremendously from region to region. Factionalism and regional divides - just like today's Anglican Communion. Yet through it all, God led Christians to a greater appreciation of God's truth. We shouldn't doubt that God can do the same today.

An Advent feast : The Immaculate Conception

Tomorrow is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, when we celebrate God's grace active in Mary's life from the first moment of her existence. As the Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission puts it,
In view of her vocation to be the mother of the Holy One (Luke 1:35), we can affirm together that Christ’s redeeming work reached ‘ back’ in Mary to the depths of her being, and to her earliest beginnings.
It is very much an Advent feast day. Just as part of what we do in Advent is prepare to celebrate Christmas, so God prepared for the first Christmas in the life and experience of his People, which we read about in the Old Testament, and finally in the life of Mary. God's grace, working at the deepest level of her being, enabled her to say 'yes' to God, to say 'yes' to being the Mother of Jesus. In the anonymous, and no doubt to most eyes unremarkable, life of a Jewish peasant woman, the God of Israel prepared the way for the salvation of the world.

God's action in Mary's life is a supreme example of what Christians have historically called providence. Without in any way compromising our freedom or treating us like puppets, the God who surrounds all things works in our lives for the furtherance of his Kingdom. The way God is working in us might not be clear to us at the time, it certainly might not be clear where God is leading us - but the God who loves us and wants to restore all things is at work, and is calling us to co-operate with that work, to say 'yes' to his love.

God prepared the world for the first coming of Christ through the life of Mary. God prepares the world for the second coming of Christ through the life of the Church. We should look at our own lives, and ask where God might be at work, so that we can say a generous 'yes' to God. And we should look at the world - looking for the 'signs of the times', the places where God in Christ might be establishing his Kingdom of justice and peace, and again we should say 'yes' to God, 'yes' to God's future.


A modern take on a traditional hymn to Mary!
Thanks to Angharad for making me aware of this gem.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

An Advent saint - Santa Claus!

Today is the feast of St Nicholas, 4th century bishop of Myra. He is the original Santa Claus - legend has it that he helped a poor family by delivering gold coins to them under cover of darkness. On one version of the legend, these coins were placed in stockings which had been hung out to dry - hence Christmas stockings and chocolate gold coins.

St Nicholas is the patron saint of children, and his feast day is a major event in some parts of the world. You can read about St Nicholas' Day customs here.

Almighty Father, lover of souls,
who chose your servant Nicholas
      to be a bishop in the Church,
that he might give freely out of the treasures of your grace:
make us mindful of the needs of others
and, as we have received, so teach us also to give;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Bishop Peter confirms in the parishes

Tuesday night bishop Peter was with ys as we celebrated the sacraments of baptism and confirmation at St. John's church for both parishes. Congratulations to Thomas, Leena,Lauren,Lisa & Mitra. We had a wonderful service and party after. Thanks to those who brought food and especially Audrey for washing up!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Advent Sunday

This week’s readings speak to a deep-seated longing within humanity for right and justice to triumph. They speak to our yearning for a final end to all cruelty and misery of our world. There is a clear bright ray of hope that runs through the lives of those who write.

Jeremiah was a prophet living around 500 years before the birth of Christ, the long awaited fulfilment of his hope and words of encouragement.
         Jeremiah had a difficult life, his prophecies and the message of warning and condemnation of Israel got him into hot water, he was imprisoned and left to die. He witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and the taking of the ruling classes into exile in Babylon. He was a sensitive man and did not enjoy having to condemn the behaviour and false hope of those around him.

Jeremiah looked for a day when God would renew his covenant with his people and restore the fallen people of Israel and rebuild the city of Jerusalem.

It is to this hope that we turn in the season of Advent as we too prepare for the coming of Christ. 

We too prepare ourselves for God to once again renew his covenant with humanity as he takes on our humanity in the incarnation.
We too look, with hope,  to see the restoration of the fallen as we here in a few weeks time the cry of Mary that the worlds order be reversed and the rich are cast down and the lowly raised up.

All this leaves us with the simple question of what difference do we expect the coming of Christ to make in our lives this Christmas?

Hope is an essential part of our lives and faith. I was at a reunion seminar on Friday for those of us who earlier this year had travelled to Israel to study at Yad Vashem. The topic of hope and the Holocaust was one of the themes we touch on – can there be any hope in the light of an unprecedented desire by Nazi Germany to eradicate every Jew from the face of the earth in the 1930’s?
When the heart rendering stories of survival are told there is a fierce debate within the Jewish community as to whether or not to leave the reader or the listener with hope or not.

For myself I cannot live without hope, and I do not necessarily mean that kind of hope that is akin to wishful thinking, or the kind of hope that for some is revealed by scratching a lottery card, I mean the kind of hope that comes from faith in a God for whom nothing is impossible.

One can have hope without faith, but is it really possible to have faith without hope?

If faith is the seed to flowering hope then there is no wonder that along with the denial of faith and the dismissive attitude of many to faith, hope is also a causality.

There are so many hoping for change and transformation in their lives and the lives of those around us
Those whose privacy has been invaded by the press
The peoples of Afghanistan, Syria, the Congo and many other places of violence and blood shed
Even in our church there are those who campaign, pray and live in the hope of a church that can fully celebrate the calling of Men and Women to service within ordained ministry of the church
And the list goes on …..

Advent is a time to make room for God in a time when there is not just “no room for the stranger in the inn" but for many of us there is no room for God either in our modern lives.

Jesus reminds us to “Watch and pray. We must remain alert and awake, watchful for the signs of God working in the life of his world and in our own lives. For so often Advent is a missed opportunity, a season that passes in the countdown to Christmas as just the number of days left to shop in. It is so tempting to loose the opportunity offered us to spend some time with God, to make space in our lives for God.   

Jeremiah’s hope was for a world transformed by the love of God who would make a new covenant or promise with his people.

Jesus is that new covenant, the new promise for the world, for you and me. And he is asking us what it is that we hope for this Christmas?