Bishop Rob's Message
The 6th letter to all in the Parish from Bishop Rob Gillion, who has been licensed as an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Lincoln and is half time Interim Priest in Charge of our parish of St John's.
Advent & Christmas Message from Bishop Rob
"Prepare ye the Way of the Lord!"
The journey towards Christmas for the Church begins on Advent Sunday (1st December 2019) with the fulfilment of God's promises. At last, a sense of excitement and anticipation rises as we prepare for the birth of Jesus our Saviour. In my former life as an actor, preparation was essential for any performance, so in the first week of December, we find ourselves at the very start of the preparations for Christmas. The rehearsals and preparations for Christmas I believe are as important as the Day itself. Each of us will experience our own unique journey.
On the first Sunday of Advent our theme is darkness to light and involves Christingles. A magical service drawing attention through the Children’s Society of the needs of our most vulnerable children. Some of the children from our church primary school will be joining us. We will receive a candle atop an orange circled by a red ribbon and topped with fruit. Do discover what this all means! Please join us at Christingle at 10am on 1st December.
For some preparation for Christmas won't be a straight road, smooth and easy it will be a struggle perhaps of pain in the darkness and require strength and stamina. They will find their path perhaps in reading of the experience of the Shepherds.
For some it will be an opportunity to share the Good News with messages of blessing, singing their way to Christmas and find their encouragement through the witness of the Angels.
For others it will be a journey of the intellect, searching for that elusive star of wisdom and truth which will lead to an act of worship and the offering of questions which are answered by the innocence and purity of the Christ child. Profound gifts offered to Him and questions answered through gold frankincense and myrrh, questions concerning wealth, prayer and the questions of life and death.
For me, my first Christmas with you will be a rural one I am focussing on the Shepherds!
'In the region there were shepherds living in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night. Then an angel of The Lord stood before them, and the glory of The Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them. 'Do not be afraid; for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.' (Luke 2: 8-11).
The Shepherds were outcasts in their day, because their work prevented them from taking part in the great temple feasts and ceremonies. It is typical of the way God acts all through scripture that the most momentous announcement of history was made to a group of frightened shepherds living on the fringe of respectable society. And the angel makes it absolutely clear that the good news is for them. 'I am bringing you good news'. They were being entrusted with a message of joy 'for all the people'. The news of the birth of the Messiah and Saviour of the world was to be entrusted to them and no one else.
That may be an important message for us too, because God has entrusted to his followers in each generation, the same message 'for all the people...' And very often we've kept it to ourselves.
Of course in one sense the shepherds were the 'right' people' because all of this was happening in the town of David, and David was the most famous shepherd boy in Israel's history. He may well have been keeping the sheep on the very same hillside when the call came for him to meet the prophet Samuel and be anointed king of Israel. Hard to accept perhaps by his father Jesse that such an honour was to befall, his youngest son, the shepherd boy. (But stranger things have happened in the kingdom Christ inhabits!!)
Luke, who all through his Gospel has an eye for the downtrodden and the outcasts of society, must have enjoyed giving the shepherds the starring role on that first Christmas night.
Lord , we thank you for the good news of a Saviour, which someone in the past shared with us, and we are now called upon to share with others. Let us not, for false humility, fear or pride, be found guilty of keeping it to ourselves. Amen.
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