Our monthly magazine
If you come along to either of the churches in our Walmersley Road Benefice you can pick up a copy of our December magazine. We would love to see you! The Benefice is in the north of Bury covering Christ Church Walmersley and St John with St Mark’s.
For those who can only get to us online, the digital version is available if you follow this link: december magazine
Inside this Christmas and New Year edition you’ll see prayers, Bible readings and meditations plus details on activities and services.
There’s also this letter from Barbara Silvester…
Baby talk for grown ups
Sitting in our office contemplating the task ahead it struck me that it’s a letter for three seasons! Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Well, usually the best place to begin is at the beginning. In fact the first words of John’s gospel are ‘In the beginning was the word’ – meaning that at creation Jesus was there with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Fast forward many millennia to today and what have we got with Advent? Yes, it’s a time of preparation, preparation for the arrival of a baby! Preparation for when we commemorate the arrival of Jesus coming to earth as a human with all the frailties that we have. However speaking as a mother – nothing can prepare you for the reality of a child in your life especially your first! So what can we do?
Like expectant parents we could make time to go to classes to prepare – and with apologies to Linda I don’t mean crafts for Christmas classes but to one of the Advent groups that are organised every year – to bring ourselves closer to Jesus by better preparing ourselves spiritually.
Then the big day arrives “It’s Christmas” to quote a pop song that your probably sick and tired of hearing!
The baby has arrived! Not quite as Mary and Joseph had planned I’m sure, quietly in Nazareth their home village but in Bethlehem after an arduous journey some 80 miles south through bandit country on a donkey’s back. Stress or what? No family support it would seem, no familiar midwife, no hospital backup. Frightening in any circumstances but for many in this war torn world all too familiar. Were the locals welcoming? It would seem not, as Jesus was born in the stable at the inn.
A warm welcome?
It begs the question, how welcoming are we? I would say pretty good if a stranger makes it through the church doors. But how about the stranger on the street, those homeless, refugees or asylum seekers? You and you alone know the answer to that one. Jesus was welcomed by the lowest of the low, the shepherds, and they were the ones that gave him the glory he deserved. Do we give Jesus the glory by our actions? Are we like the proud parents keen to welcome this new stranger into our lives?
Well, we’ve prepared and welcomed the baby into our lives so what’s next? It’s the big reveal, that Epiphany moment when we show the baby to the world. Except he’s not a baby in a pram being pushed along the street by proud parents (and grandparents). This is Jesus being revealed for who he is. God Incarnate. God in human flesh. His future is prophesied by Simeon and Anna when taken to the Temple (technically part of Christmas). Then as a child with a visit from the Magi and as an adult in his baptism in the Jordan by his cousin John, where the great declaration from God is heard “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
We hear about some of the miracles that Jesus performed, turning water into wine. Antagonising the local Synagogue by telling them that the prophecy of Isaiah had come true in him. Preaching and teaching in a radical way. Basically shaking up the status quo as he reveals what God really wants for us.
This is Jesus the man, the man we profess and follow, born to give us second birth, Jesus our Emmanuel (to quote the carol). The baby has grown up! So don’t leave him in the manger!
My prayer over this period and for 2019 is that we prepare to make the man Jesus known to all in the Benefice and that we show the love of Jesus in everything we say and do.
Blessings to all at Christmas and may you have a happy and peaceful 2019.
[For more about St John & St Mark, Bury please visit our ‘about’ page]