“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people,” proclaimed the heavenly angel to the shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem watching their flocks that night [Luke 2:10]. And so the story of the Good News of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour began. Not in the temple; not in the palace; not in the fine homes. It was started with some deemed among the lowest in society. Imagine how those shepherds felt. God sent them a message of hope! Even though so many others overlooked them and even discarded them as human beings, these lowly shepherds were loved and noticed enough by God to be the first recipients of the Good News.
Imagine their surprise to see that the King of kings, Lord of lords, was not born in the palace or a fine home, but in a lowly stable and laid to rest in a manger. Imagine their confusion! After all, how could someone so extraordinary as the Messiah, the Christ, be born into such ordinary circumstances?
That baby boy would be the hope of the world! That baby boy would bring peace eventually to this world by growing into manhood and dying on the Cross as an atonement for our sins, thus restoring believers into a right relationship with our heavenly Father. That baby boy’s death and resurrection would be the source of the great joy expressed by the heavenly angel. That baby boy is the epitome of God’s love for you and me.
During the season of Advent (the first four Sundays of December this year), St Chad’s focuses our worship on the hope, peace, joy, and love revealed through the baby Jesus. It is our preparation for the celebration of Christmas, when we mark the birth of our Saviour. Christmas is a time of rushing about, worrying about festive preparations and the perfect gifts. As the days fly by, the pressure mounts and with it come anxiety and the fear that everything won’t be just so and the day will not meet our expectations.
Maybe some timeouts would help. Come to church for the Sunday services and enjoy some spiritual refreshment as we focus on the real reason for the season—Jesus! Come into God’s house and experience His peace as we shut out the world for a little while and just bask in God’s love. Maybe the lighting of the Christmas tree at Aston on Friday the 8th at 6:30pm could be a good beginning for you as we hear the familiar story and sing many of the traditional carols. Maybe the Christingle service on Monday the 17th at 5:00pm in St Chad’s will help you relax and focus on the reason for the season. You are also invited to the Lessons and Carols service to be held this year at St Chad’s, at 10:30am on Sunday the 24th (Christmas Eve morning) where you can hear the story and sing the carols we all love. The celebration of Jesus’ birth happens at the midnight Christmas Eve Communion service beginning at 11:30am and again at a Family Communion service at 11:15am on Christmas Day at St Chad’s. Come and join us!
On the last Sunday of December, there will be a special New Year’s Eve worship service focusing on the conclusion of 2017 and the coming of 2018. It is a time to reflect on the year coming to an end and on the year about to begin. After the hubbub of Christmas, here is a great opportunity to refresh yourself spiritually once again. My faith, my relationship with God through His Son Jesus, is the foundation of my entire life. I’m not sure I could face all the ups and downs of this world without it!
What will the new year hold? We have great hopes, but equally we have many fears. There is one thing which will be the same as it was this year—God’s love. Our heavenly Father has loved us from the very beginning and will do so for all time. He promised to be with us and showed His great love by sending His Son to be born at this time and then to die on the Cross, that we might experience His love and reconciliation. That will bring us the great joy, that angel proclaimed to the shepherds so long ago.
May the peace of God which passes all understanding fill you this Christmas season with his love and joy. Welcome the baby Jesus into your heart and experience the fullness of God’s love for all eternity. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Rev. Don Alcock Telephone: 01630 647 911 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org