Minister's Message

               Minister’s Message Winter 2018

 

Finding time for Jesus...

“Where meek souls will receive him still the dear Christ enters in”      Phillips Brooks (1835-93)

 

As the nights draw in and the days get shorter, Christmas trees & lights appear in our streets, shops are filled with all kinds of gifts & people in search of the perfect present, and the levels of busy-ness rise as the temperatures outside fall. 

 

Is it just me, or do the years actually go faster as you get older?!”

“I don’t know how I’m going to fit it all in!”

“There aren’t enough hours in the day!”

“I’m not ready for Christmas!”

 

These are resounding choruses at this time of year, with so many demands on our time, attention & resources, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus, our Emmanuel – God-With-Us - in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago.

 

For Christians the celebration of Christmas is preceded by the season of Advent, a time for preparation of a more spiritual kind, when we look forward with anticipation & expectation to Jesus’ coming again to fulfil God’s kingdom promises of restoration & redemption, and try to prepare ourselves, our lives and our hearts to welcome Him again.

 

Many cultural commentators criticise the materialism of Western society, arguing that the most important gift we can offer those we love, especially at Christmas, is the gift of our time, because time is our most precious commodity. Time, it seems, really is “of the essence”. Spending time with our children, partners, friends & families doing something together or just listening to them sends an important message about how important they are in our priorities – it lets them know that they matter to us & we care about them.

 

Christian writer Rick Warren says “Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can't make more time. When you give someone your time, you’re giving them a portion of your life that you'll never get back. Your time is your life. That’s why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time.....the best way to spell love is "T-I-M-E."

Rick Warren, “ The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here for?”, 2007, Zondervan

During Advent & Christmas we revisit the stories of the people who played a part in God’s plan to come & share our humanity in the flesh - ordinary people who made a choice, amidst the demands of their busy lives, to give their time to be actively present and join in with what God was doing.

Mary risked potentially fatal punishment when she said “yes” and agreed to God’s scandalous plan for her young life. Joseph ran the gauntlet of public derision by taking the time to re-align his plans to fit in with God’s. We don’t know much about the shepherds & astrologers, but they made choices about how they used their time too: the shepherds in deciding to leave their sheep & run to Bethlehem to see if the amazing breaking news heralded by the angels in the night sky was true; and the wise men in deciding to leave familiar homelands & beliefs to follow a mesmerising star to its journey’s end.

 

Their answer to God’s question: “Have you got time for Jesus?”  was “YES!” And their choice meant that they witnessed firsthand the world-changing arrival of the promised Messiah in the helpless baby Jesus (meaning “God Saves”) in an animal feeding trough. Jesus, a child whose own choices as he grew up about where, & when, & to whom he gave his time showed what & who mattered to him.

 

It’s the same with us too, I suppose. How much time we give to being with God, listening to whatever Jesus wants to say to us, whether on our own or with others, is a sign of how important our relationship with him is to us.

 

So perhaps the question for us in Advent & Christmas and into the New Year amidst all our busyness is: “Have we got time?”

Have we got time to offer, as a gift, to those who are precious to us, our friends & families, others who need our care, and Jesus?  Can we offer our time, as a gift of worship, to the one true God, who humbled himself and offered up his life on the cross to offer to us the precious gifts of freedom and new & everlasting life in Him - a gift that no one else can give?

 

May you find time this Advent & Christmas to give to those you love, time to come & worship Jesus, time to receive with joy the gift of new life he came to offer all of us that first Christmas.

And may God bless you richly with His love, peace and joy, this Advent, this Christmas, and in the year to come.

 

Jane

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