Dear friends across our Circuit … and beyond,
‘How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given. So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven’ – name that Christmas carol?! (*see below)
Sing it to yourselves! Sing in your houses! Let your neighbours hear you! Christmas is on! Different? Yes! Cancelled? Not a bit of it! Praying and praising God, kindness and compassion and care, wondering again at the amazing gift of God’s love in Jesus and letting it shape us and inspire us – all are permitted, whatever tier/lockdown we are in!
In this world of uncertainty and distancing, we think about God coming into creation as a vulnerable baby at Bethlehem to over come the distance between God and humans. In 2020 what would this look like? Joseph and Mary followed Government travel rules to make an essential journey to be registered – track and trace? Then with no room at the inn they find themselves isolated in a stable (distancing, isolation, I guess no hand gel or masks though). Then, after giving birth without a midwife or medical support, a message arrives via strangers 0- shepherds who may not have kept their distance but came to worship the baby and proclaim the message that he was a Saviour! Perhaps stable visiting would have been permitted if Bethlehem was in tier one and garage/garden visitors were permitted (observing the rule of six)?
In time of isolation and uncertainty, hear again what God did to ‘impart to human hearts the blessings of his heaven’. God in Jesus, though his life, death and resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirt makes it possible for us to experience the love of God for ourselves day by day. ‘Where meek souls will receive him still the dear Christ enters in’. Continue to be encouraged by the certainty of God’s love and presence now and hold onto a hope that last for eternity.
I am so thankful for all the ways we have innovated to keep growing and going through this pandemic – Zoom worship, hard copy worship sheets, Buddy Bag campaigns, daily prayers on social media. Always there are prayers. For the health service, care home, those in education and all who are caring and keeping us going. For vaccines and cures. For one another. For loved ones we have lost. To be present with the presence of God in Christ for ourselves and to share it with one another, our wider community and our world is the heart of Christmas.
My prayer – Lord, thank you for your people in Clitheroe Methodist Circuit – and beyond. For generosity, innovation, care and compassion in challenging times. Hold us in the certainty of your love, hope and peace now and for all times. Be born in us today and grow your love in us. Thank you for the gift of Jesus. Let us celebrate it well. ‘We hear the Christmas angels – their great, glad tidings tell – O come to us, abide in us, our Lord, Emmanuel!’
Please check the notices carefully to keep abreast of the many ways you can celebrate Christmas. From Follow the Star! Through to Christmas Eve services and ‘live’ drop in prayer opportunities. It is a privilege to serve alongside you and myself and my family wish you a blessed Christmas and a peaceful new year. In lieu of a card, my family have bought you an Oxfam gift of clean, safe water and sanitation in the form of a water pump and a ‘life changing loo’! Keep safe, keep praying, keep caring!
(*answer, ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’)