February 2023 magazine
Here you can find the link to our February 2023 magazine. There are paper copies in our churches from this weekend.
In this edition you’ll find updates and news from many of our church groups and organisations as well as details about upcoming events. There is also a review of the Mission Community launch which took place on Advent Sunday. And there’s another on the wonderful Ukrainian Christmas Service that many of us went to.
Plus the February 2023 magazine has this letter about Candlemas from Dorothy Hawkins…
Light that candle!
February is quiet in terms of the church calendar, like the weather. We need some light to lighten us. We celebrate this exactly at Candlemas! Let’s hear it for Simeon and Anna! Baby Jesus is six weeks old and it’s time for his Presentation at the Temple as his faith requires – but something else happens too.
Indulge me in a bit of artistic licence here. We move forward in time by about 2000 yrs. This is not the Temple at Jerusalem, but Tesco’s at Bury, not exactly a religious centre I agree. Mary as a woman, however, would only have been allowed in the outer court of the Temple, where buying and selling was allowed – with a good helping of imagination then, Mary goes to shop in this Outer Court.
Well, there you are, looking for the cheapest nappies when an elderly man appears at your side asking to see the baby. He looks harmless so you agree and the old chap gets quite emotional, muttering about salvation and how he can now die in peace. You feel a bit spooked to be honest, but it gets worse. An elderly lady comes to look at the baby too then suddenly runs up and down the aisles telling everybody about the glory of him!
In my mind’s eye I see the puzzlement in the face of my Tesco couple as they hear the man’s words. Would we, with our easy access to New and Old Testament texts, be able to understand?
Did you know?
I have a song on my laptop. It goes like this:
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod –
and when you kissed your little baby, you kissed the face of God
The blind will see, the deaf will hear, and the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak – the praises of the Lamb!
Mary did you know that your baby boy is lord of all creation.
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding, is the GREAT I AM
I wish I’d written that – but a man called Mark Lowry beat me to it. A Christmas song, the words could equally represent those of the Wise Men to Mary, and Simeon’s words to her in the Nunc Dimittis. Both highlight that the promise of God to mankind has been fulfilled, the Saviour is here.
Fully human, fully divine
This baby was fully human, and fully divine and he was born into a suffering world.
Some people struggle with this. They may accept the divinity, but not side by side with humanity. They’d prefer a sort of Super baby, who will progress through Super child to Superman. This is Docetism, amazingly enough I recall the term from my training. It means not allowing Jesus to be human. But equally we may do the opposite, allow him to be ordinary, but not be God.
Jesus learned carpentry from Joseph – if he ever hit his thumb with the hammer, how did he react? Were his nails always driven perfectly straight into the wood at the first attempt? Was he a perfect teenager? Is there any such thing? A lot of people believe that he must have been perfect, or not divine. Yet, if we deny the human-ness of Jesus, we take away the humanity of God.
Surely God comes to us through the ORDINARY PEOPLE, everywhere, in Tesco’s, in the street – all of us. You and me.
Simeon, rejoices by singing what we now call the Nunc Dimittis. This tells of the LIGHT of salvation of ALL people, regardless of race, colour or belief. And where there is suffering, God is there – suffering with us.
Candlemas invites us to remember that ordinary happenings can be the most miraculous. Not one of you here is unworthy to have God act through you or for you. This is what Candlemas is – The light of the world, which is given to us all to be used. Don’t be afraid.
With love from, Dorothy Hawkins
The image on the front cover of the February 2023 magazine is courtesy of Christianclipartreview.blogspot.com