Tag Archives: Christ

Christmas: A Time For Invitations

Welcome to St Augustine’s, especially if you are joining us to witness the baptism of Olivia and Tori this morning.

Christmas is now two weeks away… so it’s time to be inviting people to join us at our Christmas services!

Today you should each receive invitation cards, giving basic details of what’s happening. Can you think of friends or family you could invite? Which services would be the most suitable for which people?

The Christmas Eve activities might suit younger families, whereas the late service or the Christmas morning service might suit others better. Take as many cards as you like:

  • Put one on your fridge
  • Put a couple in your handbag or on your dashboard to remind you to give them out to people this week
  • Write on a card the name of someone you’ll see this week with a personal invitation
  • Pass them to neighbours, with a personal message.

We face the reality that going to church is not as much a part of people’s regular activities as it used to be. But Christmas is still the time of year that attracts the most people to church. People know the Christmas tunes, are familiar with the key characters of the Nativity, and many people wait until after Christmas before they head away on holidays. All of this gives us great opportunity.

Of course Santa and the North Pole contingent also play a role in people’s Christmases. The generosity and kindness of the original “Saint Nicholas” whose name has become “Santa Claus” has been swamped by the commercialism of Christmas, where we can feel a heavy burden of obligation to buy expensive gifts for numerous people.

Yet the gift of the Christ child remains the greatest gift anyone can receive. The maker of the universe takes on human life in all its trouble, pain and futility, which in a way is a message in itself, screaming at us to put aside the wrapping paper and notice what God has done. In our midst is hope, joy, peace and love, given to restore our relationships with our maker and with each other.

Christmas really is a wonderful time for remembering the things we really need in life, and the manner in which God has indeed provided them for us!

Be bold! Mark

Advent: do you feel it?

Welcome! It’s wonderful to gather together today. Please let me know if there is anything you’d like prayer for. And please say hi to someone you don’t know very well – it’s a good discipline to help us to keep a focus on being a welcoming church.

Today is the first Sunday in Advent. On the one hand it is simply winding up and getting ready for Christmas, but it is also one of those times (like Lent) where a whole swathe of people in the community have their own traditions and rituals.

At the heart of Advent is the eager expectation of the coming of God to save his people. This finds partial fulfilment in the birth of the One who would do just that. But Advent isn’t just about looking back at Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. We look forward too.

Keep an eye out in our Old Testament readings over the next 4 Sundays for that forward-looking yearning of God’s people. The Old Testament Prophets were probably not aware that there would be two comings, not one. And so, even though so much has been fulfilled, like them, we look forward to God’s coming to fulfil his promises completely and put the world right.

But is this something we feel? Or is it merely a season that we enjoy? I do love the purple, and the lighting of candles. But Advent is not about those symbols; it’s the other way around… the symbols are about Advent: God coming as king to us to save his people and judge his enemies, bringing hope, joy, love and peace.

I guess the question is, do you trust in the Bible’s promises that Jesus will come again? He is not just a figure of history; he is a figure of the future. It can be hard for us to trust in a promise. So many aspects of our society have trained us well to be sceptical of promises… we try to keep our promises, but sometimes it’s not realistic (we think).

Well this is the spiritual challenge of Advent then… to ask ourselves honestly whether we believe that God will put things right… that there will be a day of redress, restoration and renewal. Ultimately this shines light on the fundamental question of whether God himself is trustworthy… whether you can depend on his word.

The Apostles who reflected on God’s first coming would say to us something like this: He has already come in fulfilment of seemingly forgotten promises… may this comfort us in the belief that he will come again to fulfil everything he has ever said he would do!

May Christ bless you this week!

Mark