January 2017 - Letter from the Minister

C.S. Lewis described a dystopian Narnia under the grip of the evil witch as being a land where “it was always winter, but never Christmas”: a bleak world of cold, where all the hope had been sucked out.  Sometimes, January can feel like that. December’s darkness is mitigated by the expectation of Advent and Christmas festivities, but January has only punishingly short days, and endless weeks stretching ahead before spring. And with the news doubtless full of Brexit and the inauguration of President Trump, there can seem like little to be cheerful about.

So, what is the antidote to January’s gloom? It surely must still be Christmas: no, not the depressing number of shopping days until the next one, but the fact that the incarnation of the Son of God changed our world, not just for a day or a season, but for ever.

The Church’s liturgical calendar follows Christmas with Epiphany the Christian feast that celebrates the “shining forth” of God’s revelation to humanity. What happened in Bethlehem didn’t stay in Bethlehem, as the shepherds were told, this news was given “to you and to all mankind” and the song would resonate around the whole world. If Epiphany provides a liturgical excuse to light a candle in January’s darkness, it also serves as a reminder that God with us is indeed, and for the whole year.

What will 2017 bring? Well, we shall pray for peace in Syria and Yemen, for wisdom and less divisiveness in politics, for justice for the excluded, and a warmer welcome for Europe’s refugees. And as for the Church in 2017, where we will mark 500 years since Martin Luther set Europe ablaze with a rediscovery of the Gospel of Grace, let us pray that we will see this Good News of hope and joy in Jesus shine forth, that many may hear and believe, perhaps for the first time.

And may God fill your year with his light,

Every blessing,

Alistair

Pyjama Service - Christmas Eve at 7:00pm

Don your pyjamas (or onesies) and join us for the Christmas fun. You don’t even have to be a child.  Yes, ok, the pyjamas are optional – as is making a Christingle. But here are the instructions anyway:

You will need: 1 orange, 1 small candle (a birthday cake one works), red ribbon to go round the orange, 4 cocktail sticks, a few sweets or some dried fruit.

What you do: Put sweets or dried fruit onto the cocktail sticks, and put the sticks into the orange in four different directions slightly above the fattest part of the orange and pointing slightly upwards. Make a small hole in the top of the orange and put the candle in it. Tie the ribbon round the orange and fasten with a bow, or secure with a pin. Done.

We hope to see you there - with or without a Christingle!

Shout Gladi, Gladi

Thursday 8th December at 7:30pm

We are delighted that Lois Boyle has arranged a screening of a brand new documentary filmed in Malawi and Sierra Leone featuring the work of Freedom From Fistula and Ann Gloag.

Narrated by Academy Award winning actress Meryl Streep, SHOUT GLADI, GLADI celebrates the extraordinary people who rescue African women and girls from obstetric fistula, a medical condition that can turn them into reviled outcasts.  The film presents the patients as they tell stirring tales of their struggles and triumphs. Everything culminates with the exuberant Gladi Gladi ceremony, a singing and dancing blowout that marks the day the women return home cured.

October 2016 - Letter from the Minister

Mission terrifies us. It’s embarrassing enough to speak to another Christian about God, faith or prayer, never mind to a friend or stranger who doesn’t believe.

Ananias, in Acts 9, is known for his actions on one day: crossing a street, going to a house, having a conversation, and offering a prayer. Yet, that one conversation was hugely significant, for he was to speak to Saul, previously a persecutor of the Church, who had met Jesus on the Damascus Road. That conversation began a mission that transformed Europe and wrote much of the New Testament. Yet Ananias was reluctant and with good reason. Going to the home of this Christian-killer was not likely to end well. He was risking life itself, in a way that Christians in many parts of the world still do today. By comparison, we risk so much less.

But if Jesus is good news; if he died to save us from judgement and death; if he is the meaning of life and the hope of the world; then it makes no sense not to share this news. Mission must be the priority of the Church, and our lives, congregation and resources need to be focused upon it. It is a privilege to be called to share God’s great saving plan.

But, it needs to start with little things: crossing a road, asking a question, having a conversation, and leaving the rest to God. Ananias nervously went, and said simply “Brother Saul” – those two words affirming that God was at work in the persecutor’s life – and that he was changing foes into family. How might our simple words encourage, affirm, or cause someone else to have their eyes opened to what God is doing?

With every blessing

Alistair