December/January Letter 2018

Dear All,

The season of Advent is upon once again, a time of preparing and waiting. Preparing and waiting for what I hear you thinking.

Christmas dinner?

A re-run of classic TV greats?

Black Friday or the January sales?

The children to go to bed?

The Queen’s speech or maybe the in-laws going home? Actually, Advent is about waiting and preparing ourselves, our hearts, our homes to welcome the Christ child in. You might be thinking this is impossible since Jesus was born over 2000 years ago. Yet Jesus waits…he waits and longs for those who do not know him and His love for them to welcome him into their lives for the first time, and He waits for us to welcome him afresh.

Advent is the time to focus on this, rather than running ourselves into the ground, but that is what most of us will be doing. Few of us will pause and reflect and wonder on what the coming of Jesus as a small baby really means for us, not just 2000 years ago but today at the end of 2018. Will you?

If you do, ask yourselves how it makes you feel when you see the crib with Jesus lying in it. Are you filled with love and hope or do you simply, like many, dismiss it as a fairy tale?

What difference does knowing Jesus for real make to your life?

When we eventually reach Christmas Day, many of us will be surrounded by family; friends; gifts and food in abundance. Very different from the surroundings and experience of Mary and Joseph, a stable where animals found shelter, a feeding trough for a crib, straw for a mattress and what little food was offered them. The gifts we are told were that of a newborn lamb and later strange gifts from wise men. The first visitors, strangers from hillsides and distant shores.

Yet in this scene and in many homes this Christmas there will be that special gift, one not bought but given by God when he sent His Son to earth, the gift of LOVE. It is a priceless gift and one God gives to us all. Advent is the time we prepare and wait for the coming of this gift, Christmas is the time to celebrate and give thanks for its arrival in the form of Jesus.

The gift of love is precious and we all need to know we are loved. However, there will be people who do not know what it is to be loved or how to love others.  God’s gift is freely given to us and it would be lovely to think that this Christmas we could share that gift of love with those who need to know what it is to be loved. Maybe you could invite someone on their own for meal, or leave them a gift letting them know someone loves and cares about them. Whatever you do, give the gift freely just as God did for us and let us light up the world with his love and hope.

May you all have a very Happy Christmas and may the hope and peace of the Christ child fill your hearts.

Linda


July/August Letter 2018

Dear Friends,

As you read this letter the holiday season for many people will be upon us. Holidays are good, they are a time to relax and enjoy being with family and friends or even by ourselves. A time when we have a change of pace from what becomes the everyday norm. They do not have to be somewhere abroad or somewhere expensive, they are simply a time when we do something different, when we stop watching the clock.

We all need a holiday, a break, that chance to re-charge the batteries. It isn’t a sign of weakness, people won’t think any less of us for taking a week or two off and the world won’t end. Yes this is a letter written to myself as much as it is to the rest of you.

Holidays, rest are something that God tells we need. In fact God made a day of rest, not because God needed it but because God knew that we would and do need one.

Genesis 2:2-3

And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

God reminded us of this day of rest in the Ten Commandments, it became a requirement of the Law, because God knows it does not come naturally to us.

Exodus 20: 8-11

Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.

The Bible defines ‘Rest’ as ‘peace, ease or refreshment’. All the ingredients that I look for in a holiday, although I recognise that if you have young children, then peace is not so easy to come by. But even then, we should be able to find sometime when we can just step away, even if it’s half an hour in the garden, or soaking in the bath.

The Bible cannot speak highly enough of rest and it comes up time and time again in the Scriptures.

Mark 6: 31

He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 

Jesus knew the importance of time out to relax, to get away from everyday life, even though his time on earth was limited.

The ultimate rest for all Christians is in Christ, in this life and beyond, when he simply says to hand those things that are heavy to him.

Matthew 11: 28-30

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

During these summer months, may you find and enjoy rest in the sunshine both with family, friends and with God. Take the time to be still, to listen, you may find God surprises you as well as refreshing you.

With love and blessings for refreshment,

Linda

March Letter 2018

Dear Friends,
As I write this letter we have just begun the season of Lent. It began
this year with Ash Wednesday falling on Valentine’s Day, a day when
we express our feelings to those we love, how very apt. We express
that love in many different ways, through the giving of gifts,
spending time with each other and the whispering of words of love,
hope and encouragement to name just a few. Sometimes that
expression of love might be shown through the gift of life from one
person to another, via donated organs or the giving of blood.

At the Ash Wednesday services I handed out a card to those present,
a Valentine’s card because we are God’s valentines and He is ours.
God showed how much He loves us through the death of His Son on
the cross on Good Friday. Jesus, who was without sin, yet prepared
to take on His shoulders the sin of the world so that our broken
relationship with God might be restored. What a wonderful gift of
love.


       FOR GOD
        SO LOVED THE WORLD
              THAT HE GAVE HIS
              ONLY
                 BEGOTTEN
              SON SO
             THAT WHOEVER
              BELIEVES IN HIM
        SHALL NOT PERISH
      BUT HAVE ETERNAL
                    LIFE

JOHN 3:16


Lent is a time of repentance, of turning to Christ through the acts of
prayer, fasting and giving. It is a time to stop and take a look at our
own lives, to acknowledge our mistakes and seek forgiveness
through the grace of God. A grace that is about more than the
forgiveness of sins, but a call out of God’s deep and profound love for
us to sin no more and to live a new and pure life. Jesus has given us
the opportunity to do this, whether we take it or not is up to us.

How serious are we about spending time with God?
Do we want to get to know the God who loves us?

If we do then use this Lent to turn and face Christ, to seek His
forgiveness and to begin to forge a closer relationship with Him,
through prayer and study of scripture. There are study booklets
available or you could join us at the Lent study groups. Maybe you
like to give something up, that’s great, but think about why you do it.
On Valentine’s Day, our expressions of love are often very public
displays. Are our expressions of faith for a God who loves us, the
same?


In the Ash Wednesday service people had the opportunity to be
Ashed, which is done with these words, ‘Remember that you are but
dust and to dust you shall return, turn away from sin and be faithful to
Christ.’


None of us are perfect, we are dust, we will and do get things wrong,
but God waits patiently for us to turn to him and repent.

Remember we are God’s dust that he inspires with life and saves
through His Son Jesus Christ, because He loves us. It’s a gift of love
not to be missed, but one to be cherished, nurtured and shared with
others.


If we are grateful to God for His gift of love, what three things is God
grateful to us for?


Wishing you a thoughtful and reflective Lent.
Linda
 

Christmas Letter 2017

Dear Friends,

As you read this letter the time of waiting will have begun in earnest. The question is, ‘What are you waiting for?’

Black Friday? The holidays? Father Christmas? Snow to fall?

You may be waiting sometime for some of them and when they do arrive they are just as quickly gone.

Advent is a time of waiting and preparation for the birth of Jesus. Those of you who have been or are parents will know what it feels like to wait for the arrival of a newborn baby. Others of you will have experienced similar feelings for any new addition to your family. It is a time when there is a flurry of activity, as things are made ready for the new arrival. It is a time when we prepare ourselves for a change, a change in routine, a change in how we feel and maybe in how we view life and the world. For many new parents it’s learning to love someone else, when up to now their love has been centred on perhaps just one person.

Christina Rossetti wrote the following words, which describe the Incarnation of the Son of God as love.

Love came down at Christmas,
love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas;
star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, Love divine;
worship we our Jesus,
but wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
love be yours and love be mine;
love to God and others,
love for plea and gift and sign.


A love so special that humankind could only access it after the birth of Jesus. The words are heartfelt and beautiful in their simplicity.

At the heart of this poem is the poet’s belief that love is at the centre of the Christian faith.

1 John 4: 16 ‘God is love, and those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.’

What a wonderful gift to the world. What if we could give that gift to others this Christmas and during 2018?  What a different and better place the world would be.

Love came down at Christmas not just for you and me, but for all people. God sent His Son, His Love, to share among us. When we receive God’s love in our hearts and lives, He promises to never leave us. Christmas is a time for sharing, let us share God’s love, let us reach out to those who have yet to know and experience ‘Love all lovely, Love divine’.

The world is waiting, are you?

Father God, help your people this Advent and Christmas time to prepare their hearts and lives to receive your gift of love and to respond to the challenge that it brings. Amen.

 

I wish you all a Happy Christmas filled with the love of Christ.

Linda