Preparing for Christmas

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Dear Friends,
Listening to 'BBC Breakfast' this morning I heard presenter Louise Minchin say that she had not only done all her Christmas shopping but she had also wrapped all her presents and in some cases delivered them... and this was only 20th November!
People are beginning to get ready for Christmas with the shopping malls alight with decorations, trees being erected and plans being made to enjoy this festive occasion.
Within the Church we begin to prepare our hearts and minds for the celebration of Christ's birth. In the four weeks before Christmas the lighting of the advent candles will take us on a journey towards the scene at the manger.
The first candle reminding us that Jesus told his disciples that one day he will return in great power and glory. Many have speculated as to what he meant, when this would be and how it might happen. Mysterious as this all sounds we are simply encouraged to be found ready, living by faith and walking in God's ways.
The second candle looks back to the prophets of old, men like Isaiah or Micah. I find it mind blowing that centuries before the event they glimpsed something of the wonder of the incarnation... 'He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.'
I love the story behind the lighting of the third candle which pictures dear old Zechariah taking his turn to light the incense and offer up prayers in the temple when out of the blue he has an amazing encounter with an angel from God telling him that he will have a son who will 'Prepare the way of the Lord'. God is quite able to surprise us from time to time filling us with awe, wonder and praise!
On the Sunday before Christmas our fourth candle will lead us to reflect on Mary who proves to be such a delightful example of obedient and humble faith. A young lady in her mid-teens we are led to believe, ready to respond willingly to God's calling upon her life.
And then on Christmas morning we come together to celebrate the birth of the new born King.
Like a candle flame
Flickering small in our darkness
Uncreated light
Shines through infant eyes
God is with us, alleluia
God is with us, alleluia
Come to save us, alleluia
Come to save us
Alleluia!
Stars and angels sing
Yet the earth sleeps in shadows
Can this tiny spark
Set a world on fire?
Yet his light shall shine
From our lives, Spirit blazing
As we touch the flame
Of his holy fire
Graham Kendrick
Copyright © 1988 Make Way Music
May the season of advent help us prepare our hearts and minds to truly celebrate the mystery, the wonder and the joy of 'Immanuel — God with us.'
We wish you all a very joyful Christmas and we look forward to sharing it with you.
Philip & Angela

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