“He who upholds the universe, in whom and through whom everything came into
existence, is brought forth according to the law of human birth; he at whose voice the
angels and archangels tremble, is heard in the cries of a baby.”
Hilary of Poitiers

At the heart of the Christian faith is Jesus; not a doctrine or a religion but Jesus. In the
weakness and powerlessness of a tiny baby, God comes to us. There is nothing like this in the
whole world of religion or mythology. The Bible tells us that God reveals himself to us in a
human life and death, in one particular human life and death.

Here we see that God is able to become powerless and weak; the one who spoke creation into
existence becomes a speechless infant. And God does all of this for us, to reach us in a way
that will not crush or destroy or terrify us.

In the weakness of Jesus we see the power of God; a power that has nothing to prove because
God is incomparable. It is only the weak and the insecure who need to cling onto power. God
in Jesus has the strength to become weak.

I pray that, in the middle of all of the activity of December, you will find a moment to reflect
on the meaning of it all. It is God in Jesus reaching out to the world, to you and to me, with
the news that we are loved, that we are not alone. It is God assuring us that life has meaning
and purpose beyond this world and beyond time itself.

How do we respond to such love? Firstly by rejoicing - Christmas should be a joy, not a
burden. And then by loving in response.

May God bless you and fill your home with peace this Christmas.

God bless,
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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
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Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put
upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son
Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall
come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead, we may
rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the
Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

This Collect for Advent Sunday, was translated by Thomas Cranmer into English from the
ancient Latin prayers used in the English Church. It is the first of the collects in the Book of
Common Prayer because Advent Sunday marks the beginning of the Church’s year.

The Collect emphasises one of the great themes of Advent - the judgement which we must all
one day face. However it also reminds us that the One to whom we are all accountable; the
one who will judge our hearts and our actions is Jesus. Our judge is our redeemer. He has
already died for us.

This prayer reminds me that at the heart of every Christian doctrine and dogma is Jesus. It
reminds me that in Jesus mercy and judgement are not opposed to each other, but are united
in Him; they meet at His cross.

And so, even though one day we all will face the judgement seat of Christ; even though one
day we will all hear His perfect verdict on us and our lives, on our thoughts, words and
actions, we do not have to fear His judgement.

In Christ, judgement is hopeful because as one theologian has put it, our Judge pronounces
us guilty and then steps down from the judgement seat and stands in the dock in our place.

In Advent we are encouraged to keep in our minds, for a short time at least as we prepare to
celebrate Christmas, our mortality and the judgement we will all one day face. Perhaps it is
not how we usually prepare for Christmas; but it might remind us what we mean when we
speak of the child in the manger as the Saviour of the world. It might remind us of the reason
why we continue to celebrate the birth of this baby.

As the angel said to the Shepherds, passing on the very first Christmas greeting:

“I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the
city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”

Tim Gill
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  • First Words, Prayer for the Month and Thought for the Month have been
    updated for December 2017 - see below
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As you would expect, December is largely taken up with Christmas services and
celebrations. However we begin December on
Advent Sunday 3rd December 6.30pm
with a special service of Advent Carols and Readings.

Christmas events begin on the
10th December with Christmas Crafts at 2pm and
Community Carols round the Tree (weather permitting) at 6pm.

On Monday 11th December I am pleased that we will be hosting Ecclesfield High
School’s  Christmas concert (Church will be used for rehearsals throughout the day).

On the 1
3th December 7.30pm we have our last Time for God of 2017; there will be an
Advent theme. Everyone is invited, even if you have not managed to get to one of the
sessions before. Time for God will continue in 2018 on the second and fourth Wednesdays
every month during school term time.

Sunday 17th December at 4pm we have our Christingle, celebrating God’s love at
Christmas and raising funds for a very good cause - the Children’s Society.

Thursday 21st December at 7pm there will be a short reflective service to mark the
longest night of the year.

Christmas Eve we have our Crib service at 4pm and the Festival of Nine Lessons
and Carols by candlelight at 6.30pm
, arrive early if you want to get a seat!

Finally on
Christmas Day we have an all age Eucharist at 10am.

In contrast to December, January is looking to be a quiet month - so far. One event for
your diary is the Mother’s Union Christmas Lunch on
Wednesday 24th Jan 2018.

Whatever you do this Christmas, wherever you spend it, and whoever you share it with,
may you know the blessing of the Father and the peace of Christ this year.

God bless,
Twitter - keep in touch with Tim Gill @RevTimGill
St. Mary’s Church, Ecclesfield, a Grade 1 listed building, has received confirmation
of a grant of £220,000 for major repairs to the church roof and the installation
of a state of the art security system.
Click here to read the full Press Release
Facebook - keep in touch with Tim Gill