It’s been a sad week, picking through the archives at St. Columba’s, reading so many of the activities of the past and deciding which need to be kept, binned or shredded. My shredder is getting very tired! I have also been disposing of many items stored away around the building, making arrangements to auction the better items and scrap everything else. If there is something you want to rescue I need to know this weekend – although be warned, it might already have gone.
It was also sad to realise that we would normally have been holding the Life Path Carol Service this week, It feels strange not to do so and I have had one sad telephone call from Michael who normally plays the organ. However, I have been in contact with Diane, the Chief Executive and we have pencilled one in to be held at Ansty Road next year. That felt good.
This it seems is the nature of Advent; so much sadness and yet the promise of good things in the future. We hold these things in tension. Some want to charge straight through the sadness; the radio has moved to incessant Christmas songs, insisting we must all be jolly. Advent invites us to acknowledge and live with our sadness whilst seeking new life. It allows us to name our sadness and to take time to let the hope seep in. Perhaps by Christmas, hope will have found a new level.
I also look forward to receiving volunteers to contribute to our Carol Service on 20 December. If you haven’t done so already, please get in touch. We can record contributions via zoom.
Our service this Sunday will be at 10:15am for a 10:30 start and will be led from Ansty Road via zoom by Chris Mellor. Whether you wish to be in church or not will be your own decision, but please do not come if you feel vulnerable or ill and please obey the restrictions that are in place. Remember we are in Tier 3 because it is deemed that there is a very high risk of spreading the virus and the hospital is working at capacity. For those who prefer to join via zoom the link is
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83142689496. On Thursday 10 December at 7pm we will meet on the zoom link for 18:5 Bible Study looking at Joshua.
Worship for Sunday 6th December
These notes have been prepared by Craig, but as I’m not leading worship on Sunday, the service on Sunday will be different.
Hills of the North, rejoice,
echoing songs arise,
hail with united voice
him who made earth and skies:
he comes in righteousness and love,
he brings salvation from above.
Editors of English Praise 1975 based on CE Oakley (1832-68)
God of new beginnings
We thank you for this day
We thank you for new experiences
We thank you for familiar stories, told afresh
God of good news
We thank you for those we love
We thank you for those who care for us
We thank you for familiar faces,
with whom we are blessed
God of Jesus Christ
We thank you for the story of his birth
We thank you for the stories he told
We thank you for calling us,
word and flesh.
God of raised valleys and smoothed mountains
We seek your way through wilderness
We seek your path through life’s journey
We seek a revelation of your glory.
God of enduring word
We listen for your voice
We say to the towns
“Here is your God!”
We are gathered into your gentle arms.
God of mercy and hope
We confess our sinfulness
in word and deed
in action and inaction
in our structures and values
We seek your mercy,
Ask that you proclaim that our debt has been paid
We declare our hope in your grace that carries each close to your heart and gently leads us into new beginnings.
Bible: Mark 1:1-8
You may have noticed that the poem I shared last week, ended just beyond this point with the declaration in the wilderness that Jesus is the Beloved. It linked the story of Hagar banished into the wilderness who becomes the first to name God as God-who-sees, with Hannah whose prayer God sees, with John the Baptist whose time in the wilderness declares that God’s time is coming. Throughout history many have felt the wilderness of a life that is filled with despair, sorrow, fearfulness. For many that is the real history of humanity. But the good news that Mark wants us to hear is that we can repent (turn around) and live differently. The kingdom of God is near and the history of ordinary people is as crucial in that kingdom as any named in history books.
Mark tells us that this is the beginning. That has a resonance with Genesis and with John’s gospel, but they were describing the beginning of history. This is not the beginning of history of course, It is one point in time, but it is the beginning of a new salvation history that will focus on Jesus, the Son of God who invites us on a new discipleship adventure. That beginning happens whenever we hear the story for the first time, or when we hear fresh once again, ready to change our lives.
That beginning of good news will mean something different for each of us, perhaps we need to change our focus in life, or amend the way we live, or be open to new ideas. When the time is right we will each know the way in which God is calling us into the beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the in-between time we listen for voices crying out in the wilderness, we listen for those God names as beloved, we listen for the urging of the Holy Spirit.
Thank you to those who have supported the Giving Tree Project and to those who handed in their Mission boxes to Roberta. Those gifts have raised £112 that we will send to Commitment for Life.
I’m now going to encourage you to support those charities that we support at our Carol Services. For Ansty Road that is The Coventry Boot Fund and St. Andrew’s Home. Our Church Meeting agreed that we would support both from the proceeds of the charity fund, but if you would like to add to those sums please send your gift by cheque to Caroline or via the church account Sort code is 202355 a/c no 60995746. Mark it for the Charity Fund in the reference box. For St. Columba’s it is to Christian Aid, https://www.christianaid.org.uk or send a cheque to Craig made payable to St. Columba’s URC, but tell me it’s for Christian Aid.
Prayer from Christian Aid
May you abound in the hope of the prophets, imagining another way.
May you abound in the hope of a mother, singing revolution.
May you abound in the hope of an infant, the incarnation of love.
May you abound in the love that builds hope this day and evermore.
And may you have a hopeful Advent and a comforting Christmas.
Tune Kingsfold (RS 349, I heard the voice of Jesus say)
When out of poverty is born
A dream that will not die.
And landless, weary folk find strength
To stand with heads held high,
It’s then we learn from those who wait
To greet the promised day,
“The Lord is coming; don’t lose heart.
Be blest; prepare the way!’
© Kathy Galloway, the lona Community.
Written for Christian Aid. 1990.