|A few years ago the Church of England almost introduced a new season into the Church
Calendar. It was to have been called ‘Kingdom Season’ and, falling between the end of the
long run of ‘Sundays after Trinity’ and Advent Sunday, it would have filled the four weeks
of November. It was to have been a season characterised by hope; Christian hope - which
is not the same thing as optimism!
The theme of ‘Christian hope’ emerges from the Sundays in November.
We begin with All Saints (on Sunday 5th November), then Remembrance Sunday (this
year on the 12th November); on the Sunday before Advent (26th November) we celebrate
‘Christ the King’.
Hope and optimism are not the same thing. An optimist expects things to work out well; a
person of Christian hope trusts that God will be with us even when things go wrong in life;
that God will sustain us and bring us through.
Christian hope is not founded upon an exaggerated sense of our own abilities and
strengths; our hope is not about us - it is based upon God. When the angel announced to
Joseph in a dream that his and Mary’s child would be the long-awaited Messiah, the angel
gave Jesus a secret name, Immanuel, which means ‘God with us’. Not simply ‘God among
us,’ but 'God with us.’ God with us in the storms and struggles of life; God with us when
we feel broken and desolate.
We see what this means when we look at Jesus’ Cross. There we see the extent of God’s
commitment to be with us. In Jesus God comes among us as one of us. God experiences
human life from the inside. As one writer said, ‘In Jesus God suffered and died as a man.’
A large part of our hope is knowing that we are not alone; that we are not abandoned, but
that as we pass through the trials and struggles of life, God, the God who we meet in Jesus
is with us. He will never abandon us.
But we do to only look to the Cross; we look to the resurrection too. We see that there is no
power in all of creation, not even death itself, that is greater than the love of God that
reaches out to us in Jesus.
So in this almost-season of the Kingdom we remember that whether we laugh or weep;
whether we rejoice or our hearts are breaking, in Jesus God is with us and He is for us and
He will never abandon us.
Paul puts this hope best in his letter to the Church in Rome in the middle of the first
century when he writes:
“I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor
things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be
able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
|Following Jesus; Celebrating Life; Welcoming All
We are here to help people love and worship God.
We aim to be, and encourage others to become, committed and active disciples of Jesus,
who love God and worship him, who know the power of the Holy Spirit and who show
God’s love in every part of their lives.
|Prayer for the month
|Thought for the month
|Below you will find extracts from this month's Parish Magazine
First Words..., A Prayer for the Month & A Thought for the Month
|The Lord’s Prayer, final part:
“For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
forever and ever. Amen”
This traditional ending to the Lord’s prayer as we pray it now was not part of Jesus’
original prayer. It was added in the early Church as it was used in public worship and
private prayer. Jesus’ prayer ends on a note of praise, turning from ourselves, our needs
and our concerns to God.
The prayer begins with God (Our Father…) and it ends with God; with God’s glory. The
kingdom that we pray for is God’s kingdom and we must never confuse God’s kingdom
with our own wishes and desires. The power that brings in this kingdom is God’s Holy
Spirit, working in and through us certainly, but it is not our effort. And the glory that we
long for is all God’s, it is not the Church’s and it is not ours.
This focus on God at the end of Jesus prayer reminds me of some advice that I was given
nearly thirty years ago in Theological College by an elderly and godly vicar of Little St
Mary’s in Cambridge: ‘Don’t take yourself too seriously; don’t take the Church too
seriously; just take God seriously.’ It is advice that I have tried to live by.
As Christians we long to see God’s reign of truth and righteousness and justice break into
our world with healing and restoration. And, although it will not be built by our efforts, we
do have a part in the coming of God’s kingdom. When we turn to Christ; when we allow
God to be the lord of our lives, then God’s kingdom grows, person by person, soul by soul.
God begins to reshape us, and as God re-shapes us, so He re-makes the world around us.
As Christians and as Jesus’ Church we do not seek our own glory, we seek God’s glory.
When we pray in Jesus’ name we find again and again, that our prayer changes as we
focus on Jesus rather than on ourselves. His will becomes our will. Part of this is our
willingness to put our own hopes and desires on hold, and let God remake them.
When we pray in this way, we discover that God really does have prepared for those who
love Him, such good things as pass our human understanding. The glory is God’s; but we
are invited to share in it.
As Charles Wesley put it:
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|The month of November is often lost in the annual mad dash to Christmas, and some of
the events this month at St Mary’s have a Christmas flavour about them - particularly the
Christmas Fayre in the Gatty Hall on Saturday 25th November - all are welcome, for
more information see the advert in this magazine. Pass on the word to family and
One very important date in the calendar is Remembrance Sunday on the 12th
November. Our annual service of Remembrance will begin in Church at 10am and will
continue in the Churchyard at the War Memorial for the silence at 11am. We meet to
remember those whose lives have been lost in war and we dedicate ourselves to be a people
of peace. We also pray for those who serve in the armed forces today, giving thanks for the
security that we can too easily take for granted.
On the last Sunday of the month (26th November) we celebrate the feast of Christ the
King. This celebration brings the Church’s year to completion and reminds us that Jesus is
a king like no other; He is the servant king who died for us and rose again.
On the 26th November in the evening we will have the last Prayer and Praise of 2017. If
you have never been to one of these services they are an informal time of praise, led by our
worship group. There is a not too long, biblically based, sermon and a time of prayer. It is
a simple, joyful time of worship that is loved by those who come along every month. If you’
ve never been why not come in November?
Finally looking ahead to December we begin a new Church Year on Advent Sunday
(3rd December). In the morning we have our Parish Eucharist, and in the evening a
special service of Advent Carols and Readings.
| Twitter - keep in touch - Tim Gill @RevTimGill