Thought of the Week - 1st December 2021


Pre read: Luke 1:50

John Cook writes: “First, an apology about last Sunday’s 10.30 am Morning Worship which I have learnt today became chaotic and difficult for those leading and preaching, and more importantly those attending the 10.30 am Service. Let me explain the background. Service Orders and Notice Sheets are normally left at The Vicarage but this weekend, simply by a human error, they were misdelivered, so this did not happen as normally does. What happened was the person who had printed Service Orders put them through Andy Ferguson’s letter box [but, agh he was in Dublin!] by mistake. You also need to know there have also been issues around our AV in church. Many hours of work are being given to sort problems (by Graham Trolley and Doug Clarke) to whom we owe our thanks. Please keep these challenges in your prayers.”

 

With Covid infections still high, and with the news of the emergence of a new Covid variant, we continue to encourage mask wearing at all of our services, and social distancing during after-service refreshments where masks are impractical. We have also planned to duplicate the busiest services at Christmas to avoid over-crowding. Depending on government decisions and advice, things may change, so please keep an eye on church notices.


 LUKE 1:46-55: MARY’S SONG

‘THE MAGNIFICAT’

 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,

for He has regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden.

From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed,

for He who is mighty has done great things for me.

Holy is His name!

 

His mercy is on those who revere him

from generation to generation.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm,

and He has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has brought down the mighty from their thrones,

and lifted up the lowly.

 

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich He has sent away empty.

He has upheld his servant Israel,

remembering to be merciful

to Abraham and to his descendants forever,

just as He promised our ancestors.’


 Over the next few weeks of Advent, as we approach Christmas, we will look at some of the Gospel passages prior to the birth of Jesus.

Chapters 1 and 2 of Luke’s Gospel, tell the story of Jesus’s birth from Mary’s perspective. The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she had been chosen to be the mother of the Son of God. She would call him Jesus, and he would reign as King forever.

Mary was unmarried and pregnant, which would have caused great scandal and shame to her family and which could have resulted in her being killed - yet she was still able to say to Gabriel, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

Mary then went to stay with her older cousin Elizabeth, who had been chosen by God to be the mother of John the Baptist, who would prepare the way for Jesus the Son of God when he grew up. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in Elizabeth’s womb. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”

In response to Elizabeth’s confirmation of God’s promise, Mary spoke the words that have become known as the ‘Magnificat’, from her declaration, “My soul magnifies the Lord …”.

It is an out-pouring of praise to a God who is always faithful and totally trustworthy, and despite the incredible circumstance she found herself in, it is her declaration of complete faith, trust and obedience to God.

Mary’s Song calls us to devote our lives to being, like Mary, willing and humble servants of God. It reminds us that, like Israel, we are called to be God's servants in the world, serving others as a reflection and extension of God's kingdom. Mary's song stirs in us a desire to live for what really matters, so that God might work through us for his purposes and glory.

 In the days before Christmas, we can easily get caught up in mass consumption as we scurry about buying presents and enjoying lavish Christmas parties. Mary’s song encourages us to step back, to think about our values and our striving. Perhaps, this season of Advent can offer a different way, a way of seeking, a way of serving, a way of sacrifice. May we all, like Mary, have such faith, trust and obedience to God, whatever our circumstances.


May God bless you all this Advent


With love from everyone at St Paul’s, St Peter’s and St Mary’s.


Bible Readings


Click to read the Bible reading for the week: Philippians 1:3-11 Matthew 25:1-13


Please pray for

  • Those who are sick, in mind, body or spirit, thinking of Nicholas Roynon and those known to us
  • Those who mourn, thinking of the loved ones of  Phil Smith
  • Those desperate people who risk their lives crossing the Channel in order to find a better life here in the UK
  • Wisdom for our Government, energy for our NHS staff, and good sense for our people, as Covid cases continue and a new variant threatens
  • Those who are lonely
  • Give thanks for all that is good in your life

Pre read: 2Timothy 4:7-8

Dear Friends,

We hope you’ve had a good week and that you and your loved ones are all safe and well.

After 19 days, the Olympic Games 2020 came to an end last Sunday. Delayed for a year because of Covid, the athletes worked towards those games for 5 years, struggling through all the Covid restrictions as well as their own limitations. In 2 weeks’ time the Para Olympics will begin, with those athletes also having persevered against all odds to make it to that great celebration of human endurance and excellence.

In the Bible verses above, the apostle Paul is writing what may well be a final farewell to his good friend Timothy. Paul senses he is approaching the end of his life, but rather than fear it, he sees it as a great victory for which the greatest reward – a place in the Kingdom of Heaven - is waiting for him. May we all have that same confidence in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, and may God bless you and your loved ones this coming week.                                           

With love and prayers

from all at St Paul’s, St Peter’s and St Mary’s


This week we continue our occasional series on Prayer,

taken from ‘Prayer: Where to Start and How to Keep Going’,

by Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York.

 

HOW DO I BUILD PRAYER INTO EVERYDAY LIFE?

Most of us have routines that shape the day. One of the ways of developing a life of prayer is to weave times of prayer into these existing rhythms and routines. Each point in the day lends itself to a different sort of praying:


First thing in the morning

When you get up in the morning, use this as an opportunity to welcome the new day. Dedicate the day to God, asking for God’s blessing on you and your loved ones through the day, and for you to able to be a blessing to those you will meet.


As I rejoice in the gift of this new day,

so may the light of your presence O God,

set my heart on fire with love for you,

now and forever. Amen.


At mealtimes

Eating is one of the main routines that shape a day. When you sit down to eat, say a prayer of thanksgiving for your food: for those who plant and grow and pick and transport and stack and sell the food that ends up on your plate. This can also be an opportunity to give thanks to God for all the good things in your life and remember those who do not have the luxury of regular meals.


Lord Jesus, thank you for this food,

for those who have produced it,

for those who have prepared it,

(and for those with whom I share it.)

Thank you for those I love most.

I lift to you all who hunger:

 for food, for shelter, for love and for you.

As I eat, help me to remember your provision and goodness with a thankful heart. Amen.


As you exercise

If you take a daily walk (or run or cycle) you are likely to be on your own. Why not use this as an opportunity to pray for others as well as yourself. Perhaps list in your mind the people you are concerned about and the other things that are closest to your heart.


At the end of the day

When we go to bed, we think back over the day and we bring to God the things that have gone well and the things that have gone wrong. We thank God for the blessings of the day and say sorry for those things we have got wrong. We entrust ourselves and our loved ones into God’s hands asking for peace and rest throughout the night.


Save us, O Lord, while waking, and guard us while sleeping,

that awake we may watch with Christ

and asleep we may rest in peace. Amen.


Not all these things will work for everyone. Some things that work one day, won’t work so well the next. Find the way of praying that is right for you, and then build on it, trying other new things from time to time.

(Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York)

 

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