As I write this week’s pastoral letter I can look out of my window and see that people are starting to prepare for Christmas already. Lights are going up and decorations are coming out of the loft. I imagine some of us will be thinking ‘but it’s not even December yet, Christmas seems to start earlier every year’. Others may be hoping that by putting the decorations up earlier it may cheer things up a bit as we struggle through another lockdown.

Nov 29th is the first Sunday in Advent this year; this is the season when Christians ‘prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ’.

How are you going to prepare to celebrate?

It will certainly be a different Christmas this year, we don’t yet know whether we’ll be able to gather for any kind of worship or if we’ll be able to meet up with other family members, it could be a sad end to a very difficult year for some of us, so it could well be hard ‘preparing to celebrate’ this advent.

Christmas is and has been celebrated in many different ways and in different cultures around the world (one of my favourites is in Venezuela, where one tradition is to roller-skate to early morning prayers) but however it is celebrated and what form it takes this year, the message is still the same which could be summarised in this passage from Luke 2:10-14

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

I know it’s rather early to be wishing you all a blessed Christmas but I pray and hope we all find the time to prepare and make room for Christ this advent and experience the nearness of God’s presence in this season. God bless you all.

Mark Chester

Circuit steward.

Methodist advent prayer 2018

God, with us,
As we enter this season of longing and waiting,
bear with us a little longer;
R: be patient with our impatience.

You have journeyed alongside us from the beginning of time,
R: yet still we miss the signs of your presence.

When we are blinded by the brashness of this season:
R: Open our eyes to the glimpses of your glory.

When we want simple answers:
R: Open our minds to the hints of incarnation.

When we are deafened by our own shouting:
R: Open our ears to the whispers of your grace.

May we share with you in longing for restoration and renewal
and may we be watchful for the light that breaks through
the darkness of our world.
R: In Christ’s name. Amen

God says ‘Be patient, watch and wait,
for the time is close at hand.’
Know that you are loved, forgiven and healed.
R: Amen. Thanks be to God.

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