Simon Taylor

And so it begins… the Carol Service season is upon us and what a joy it is, but it isn’t just about carols and candles. This is part of gathering as God’s family from across Busbridge, Hambledon, Godalming and nearby villages.

When we gather we enter into a spiritual place of drawing close to God in a unique and special way. So, when you sing Away in A Manger don’t dwell too much on the line about ‘a baby not crying?!’ but consider this: ‘you are praising Him alongside your great family of worshippers as we celebrate the approach of Almighty God’.

Here’s a crib list (sorry, pun intended) to help you remember:

Christmas Eve

Busbridge: Candlelight Celebration for all the family 4.00pm / 5.15pm / 6.30pm

Hambledon: Crib Service 3.00pm / 5.00pm

Both: Midnight Communion 11.00pm

Christmas Day

Busbridge: 9.00am Communion with Carols, 10.30am Family Celebration (followed by a short communion)

Hambledon: 9.00am Traditional Christmas Communion, 10.30am Family Celebration

A final call? That every member of this family of God invite someone to come along with you who has yet to know the salvation of being part of God’s family; that they might experience the great news of God who drew near then and still draws near today.

Date for the diary: what is the focus going to be for the coming year? Resolution Sunday is 8th January 2017.

 

Margot Spencer

God with us - are we ready?

“Coming, ready or not!”

The children’s game of hide and seek is a salutary reminder of our readiness - or otherwise - as we travel through Advent and reflect on where it is all leading.

Some of you, no doubt, will have done your Christmas shopping, wrapped the presents, sent the cards and put all the festive food in the freezer. Others will be taking a more laid-back approach and will do your final checks on Christmas Eve. Many (most?) of us are probably somewhere between the two extremes.

God began his preparations for the first Christmas many thousands of years in advance.  Throughout the Old Testament, there are prophecies referring to a special child who would be born: we are told his birthplace; his names and their meanings. Many of these prophecies have been fulfilled - though only with the benefit of hindsight do we see them for what they are. Only when the people of New Testament times looked back through their history did they put two and two together and realise what God had been doing all that time.

As we walk through Advent and prepare for Christmas, our main focus needs to be on God himself: on the wonder of his first coming, as a vulnerable baby, and the wonder of his second coming, in glory.

Advent reminds us that - like the children playing their game - he will come, whether we are ready or not.

 

Dudley Hilton

“Morning, David**.  Great ‘Word’ last week, really enjoyed it.”

“Good morning, Dudley.  Most kind.  I see you are down for this coming week yourself.”

“Yup. Thought I’d major on ‘Hope’.  The sermon title is God with us – His banner is over us and if that doesn’t give us hope then what will?  After all, what with The Donald and Brexit and Putin we need a bit of hope, don’t we?  I mean, we all hope it’ll all work out OK, and the Isaiah passage for Sunday goes on about wolves milking goats and suchlike.’

“Er, yes, Dudley, but I’m not sure that Isaiah had quite that sort of hope in mind. I think you might be taking a slightly too ... modern an interpretation of ‘hope’.  I suspect that Isaiah might have had a rather more... significant idea in mind, more eschatological, perhaps.”

“Eschata...  Oh, you mean about the end times, God’s Big Plan and all that?”

“Yes, Dudley.  Quite so.  And I commend the Romans passage to you also as it speaks about ‘the God of hope’.  I think it becomes clear that ‘hope’ is spiritual and future, substantial and something to hold on to in times of trouble, rather than just wishful thinking.”

“Ah... I think I need to get back to my keyboard, David. Bye for now...”

“Goodbye, Dudley.  [sotto voce And good luck ... I think you’ll need it!]”

**David Mace – wrote last week’s Word (well worth reading if you haven’t already seen it).

 

David Mace

Happy New Year!

No, I have not taken leave of my senses, I am just making the point that this Sunday, Advent Sunday, marks the beginning of the Church’s year in terms of its calendar.

 My memories of the Advent season when I was young are that it was a rather dark time with readings and sermons that focussed on the second coming and on sin and judgment and God’s anger. There seemed to be very little looking forward to the coming of Jesus and all the joy and promise of that with the result that Christmas seemed to turn up rather suddenly and be gone as quickly.

 Things are very different now. The whole season is very much more upbeat, lookingforward to the events of Jesus first coming as well as looking forward to Jesus second coming to complete and redeem that promise. Our sermon series from now to the New Year is on the theme of ‘God with us’, exploring the implications of that fact and our individual and collective response to it.

This week our topic is ‘God with us – living in his light’ with passages from Isaiah and Romans, both rich in imagery, both with a sense of urgency for us to recognise the times in which we live. It is time for us to wake up; ‘the night is nearly over, the day is almost here’, ‘put on the armour of light, clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ’.  Messages to bring us light and purpose, joy and confidence in a world of darkness and confusion.

As Isaiah puts it ‘Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord’, this Advent season.

 

Clare Haddad

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

(Psalm 103 11-12)

This is one gem of many in Psalm 103, a psalm which whatever our time of life or situation will have something to uplift our spirit.

It is full of beautiful imagery: He crowns you with love and compassion, your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The psalm starts and ends with an outpouring of praise. Praise is not something which is a dry duty, it is something that comes naturally to human beings, we do it all the time: “How lovely to see you,” “This is delicious.” Praise is inner health made audible.

God made us to be people who praise him and everything good that he gives. When we praiseand worship himcollectively or alone hedelights in us. 

 

Margot Spencer

This will be a weekend to remember*.

 On Saturday, many people who have been bereaved, either recently or long ago, will gather in Busbridge church to sing well-known hymns, hear words of hope and remember their loved ones by name. The church will be ablaze (we hope not literally!) with candles, symbolising the light of Christ, which brings hope on dark days.

 On Sunday, we shall join with the rest of the nation in remembering those who gave their lives in two world wars and many conflicts since. The Royal British Legion is encouraging us to re-think Remembrance, in the light of the fact that many so-called war veterans these days are not old men, but young men and women in their twenties and thirties. People who have lost limbs, independence and sometimes peace of mind, in wars fought far from home. Remembering is important. Whenever the Jews celebrate Passover, they remember their ancestors’ escape from Egypt. They remember significant people, places and events, as we should.  They also remember God’s goodness and faithfulness, as we should. 

In times of remembrance, these words from Lamentations 3:21-23 offer them - and us - hope:

Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

*A weekend to remember.  As the children would say, “Do you get it?”

 

Frances Shaw

Dreams can be of the ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ kind; or maybe of the ‘I’m dreaming of a white Christmas’ kind; or perhaps of the ‘I can’t remember where I parked my car’ nightmare kind. Some dreams in the Bible seem to be more like what we might call a vision, a picture, where God communicates with people at what often turn out to be significant moments.

In Jacob’s dream he saw a ladder, with angels on it going up and down, symbolically suggesting a movement from heaven to earth, and earth to heaven. When Jacob woke up, he was afraid, and said, ‘How awesome is this place!’ (Gen 28.17). This sense of awe or fear is often mentioned in connection with a dream or a vision from God, and this is one of the ways in which we can know that the dream is from God and not our own wishful thinking.

Jesus (in John 1:51) sees himself as a ladder, again with angels ascending and descending. As Son of Man he himself forms a permanent ladder between heaven and earth.

In 1866 Busbridge Church may well have been covered in ladders, well on the way to the completion of the building, which was consecrated on 1 March 1867. We are blessed with two beautiful church buildings, built to the glory of God. And God has now sent the gift of his Spirit, who enables us to dream, not our dreams, but his.

 

Jeannie Postill

Have your shopping habits changed?

Take bread.   There is a shift towards the artisan baker and his product which is made from natural ingredients, with more flavour – authentic – the real thing. Yet the raw ingredients look so basic – flour (various), water, yeast...yet in the hands of a Master Baker they are transformed.

What has this to do with today’s Bible Reading?

An inadequate offering of lunch from a boy was transformed into a feast for 5000 – in the hands of the Master.

However inadequate you consider yourself or your talents, in the hands of Jesus the Master, they can accomplish much.

Try it.   You will be surprised.

 

Gertrud Sollars

A few years ago I read Richard Rohr’s Falling Upwards; the subtitle is ‘A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life’. In it, Rohr argues that, in the first half of life, we learn to obey rules; in the second half, we learn which ones we can break (you may want to hide this from your kids).

If today’s reading is anything to go by, Jesus agreed with the view that rules are not absolute. The particular rule in question in John 5 is not working on the Sabbath – one of the 10 commandments, no less. When Jesus is criticised for healing on the Sabbath and telling the lame man to carry his mat, he does not defend himself by saying that this isn’t work, he says, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”

Which day of the week is it in God’s calendar? Genesis counts as far as day 7, the Sabbath, on which God rested. Is he still resting? Jesus tells us here that a new week has begun in heaven; God is back at work with a new creation (hence the start of the gospel ‘In the beginning …’), and Jesus is the power through whom this new creation is brought about.

Heavenly rules and earthly rules do not always coincide; our earthly calendar may be out of sync with the heavenly calendar. How can we make sure that we are in step with Jesus?

 

Mark Williams

On Monday of this week our PCC voted unanimously to bring about the first phase of our long-imagined project to provide new facilities for ministry. A team of amazing people have prepared a detailed scheme to complete the purchase of the existing Busbridge Rectory and convert it for church use. The plan has drawn on feedback from various groups and sought to prioritise delivery of spaces and facilities that meet immediate needs whilst listening carefully to those who have expressed concerns.

Bishop Michael Baughen shared with us an image of walking around a mountain path: we can only see to the next bend in the path and although we know there may be an end goal further beyond, we believe God is calling us to focus on that which is before us.

You as worshippers at Busbridge and Hambledon churches have contributed the funds to make this possible. Thank you! There will be plenty of opportunities to get involved practically over the next few months.  Prayer, planning and fund raising will continue to be important. Do please keep praying!

This is a truly exciting moment: in the race before us and after much preparation, we are out of the starting blocks and aiming to have new facilities ready as part of our 150th celebrations next year.  Hallelujah!

James Ellin

In the Garden, God with us
In the desert, God with us
In the tent, God with us
In the battle, God with us
In exile, God with us
In fear, God with us
In praise, God with us
In the silence, God with us
In the waiting, God with us
In Jesus, God with us
at Pentecost …God in us!

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be,
world without end.

Amen.