Chapel Street Methodist Church
Penzance

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Minister's Letter, 10 December

From the Revd Alastair Bolt

Dear Friends,

I’m reaching the stage where for me Advent gets taken over by pre-Christmas. Now I know some of you will say that Advent should be savoured for itself right up until Christmas Eve, but I like to do Christmas running up to the day, not just after the day. After all, Advent has been invented by the church as a useful aid to spiritual reflection and preparation, a bit like Lent before Easter. Although God was preparing to send His Son ages before He actually did, and we have the biblical prophecies to trace this, the people of Judah didn’t have Advent, because they didn’t know when the Messiah would come. Apart from Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah, Christmas started for most people on the Day, with no preparation and no Advent. So, we can each sort out our own Advent. This week our set Bible readings are about John the Baptist, but if you want to read the story of the Three Wise Men, you don’t need to wait until Epiphany! Read through the whole Christmas story as much as you can and let God speak to you from any part of it at any time!

Christmas is a time of ‘Good News’, and we need to share that good news. Now must be a time of mission, and to do mission the church does need to be doing Christmas when everyone else is. If the supermarkets are playing carols, now is the time to talk to people about Jesus being with us, rather than the Old Testament or John the Baptist. The great theme of Advent is the Second Coming, but unbelievers are hardly interested in that until they are convinced about His first coming! So, in our conversation, invitation and worship, let’s keep it simple and keep it about Jesus in Bethlehem and in Cornwall.

Anyway, I do hope you are making good progress with your preparations of all types. We will be busy but, within limits, its good to be busy; to enjoy a bit of chaos, and be surprised by joy.

I was chatting this week with a friend as to whether we decorate round the ‘back’ of our Christmas trees. What do you do? As our tree is in a bay window, we try to decorate the back for the benefit of passers-by, but if only the wallpaper will enjoy your decorations, need you go right round the back? At the very top of the tree there is no front or back! Perhaps by putting a star or an angel at the top of the tree we can acknowledge that the Bible story is all round our Christmas.

Mind you, many hidden things are vital. To conclude the saga of the rebuilt petrol station at Wherry Town, the concrete is now finished and everything is ready for the canopy and pumps. How long will anyone give a thought to the huge muddy excavations, the massive sunken oil tanks and the complex piping, just as long as the pumps supply the fuel to drive? Yet year on year that hidden complex of engineering will be silently serving us on the surface. The Bible tells us to have our roots and foundations in love, to be like trees putting out our (hidden) roots towards the water. There will be many things clamouring for your attention this Christmas, but reach down in your hearts and draw on the powerful love of Jesus which He came down to earth to make available to every one of us.

Warm regards to you all,

Alastair's signature

Published at 14:16 on 10 December 2020

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