Alton Webteam: December 2020
It is always wonderful to receive good news!
This week my brother rang up early in the morning to ask if we had heard the good news that his daughter, Rebecca had just become engaged! Bex, who incidentally was born X number of years ago on Christmas Day whilst we were all at chapel for the service (most inconvenient as we were meant to be going to their house for dinner!) is a children's worker in a church in Poole. Good news for all the family!
I received another phone call from one of our church members passing on the good news that she had been invited by the local surgery to receive the Covid vaccination this week! One of the first to our knowledge! It is wonderful to think that despite a difficult winter ahead, the vaccinations are now happening for real!
The Christmas Story is of course full of people hearing the 'Good News' that the Christ child is to be born.
One of the first of those is Mary, who is the focus of our on-line service this week. In the small town of Nazareth, this young lady, most likely just in her teens, receives an unexpected visitor. We read that God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph.
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy — the Son of God. (Luke 1.35)
There are many remarkable aspects to this story that we could reflect on.
One of those is the visitation of an angel — not an everyday occurrence!
An angel is a 'messenger from God'. You sometimes hear stories of people having an angelic vision; however, it is not the norm! This is one of several such supernatural experiences in the nativity story that reveal that God is about to do something extraordinary.
God may choose to speak to us in many ways, through the words of scripture, the wisdom of others, his still quiet voice... and on this occasion through angels!
Another remarkable claim made in the Gospels is the virgin conception.
Both Matthew and Luke include it in their accounts. Dr Luke states that he had investigated everything in his Gospel from beginning to end (Ch 1.3).
First-century folk knew every bit as well as we do that babies are produced by sexual intercourse. When in Matthew's version of the story, Joseph heard about Mary's pregnancy, his problem arose not because he didn't know the facts of life, but because he did. (N.T.Wright, Who Was Jesus? p78)
Sometimes, it seems, God chooses to defy our rational thought, break in, and find ways of blowing our minds away!
The virgin birth is posted on guard at the door of the mystery of Christmas; and none of us must think of hurrying past it. It stands on the threshold of the New Testament, blatantly supernatural, defying rationalism. (Donald Macleod, The Person of Christ, p37)
We must also spare a thought for Mary who received this 'Good News'.
It turned her life upside down! It must have caused a scandal in town! What would people think? What would they say? What about Joseph — how would he react?
Remarkably, Mary, after her initial fears demonstrates incredible faith. She believes, accepts and is willing to obey.
'I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered.' 'May your word to me be fulfilled'. (Luke 1.38)
Why not take time to reflect on Mary, and her 'Good News'!
Messy Church — on Zoom!
Last Sunday we enjoyed our first ever Messy Church via Zoom. Five families and 13 children joined Liz and I as we had fun re-living the Christmas story. A bag of craft materials was delivered to each home beforehand along with some 'nibbles'!
We began with a Christmas memory game and a scavenger hunt as the children raced off to find random items from around the house. Wooden Christmas tree templates were then decorated and looked fantastic. We all joined in the actions to the song Hush, there's a Baby... (well I think we did!) and then watch a Christmas Video story.
Paper craft followed as we made Mary, Joseph and the baby along with paper chain prayers before finishing with another round of scavenger hunt.
It was great to see some of our Messy Church families and to be able to wish them, as they did us a Happy Christmas!
Sunday 20th Dec — On-line recorded service with speaker Rev Chris Blake found as usual on the home page of www.altonmethodist.org.uk
Christmas Eve — Zoom Carol Service at 7pm and also a Recorded Carol Service will be on the web site on the same evening — so you can enjoy carols, readings and a nativity play! Zoom details will be in the accompanying email and on request from Philip & Liz)
Christmas Day — Zoom Informal Carols at 10am — Why not join and wish each other a Happy Christmas, sing some carols and share readings.
Sunday 27th Dec — On-line recorded service led by friends at the Parish of the Resurrection (A GAP Service) found as usual on the home page of www.altonmethodist.org.uk
Philip and Angela would like to thank you for your ongoing help and support towards the life of the church and your care for one another.
We wish you a very peaceful, healthy and joy filled Christmas!
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