On Wednesday I was in Homebase, returning a tin of paint. It was busy, there was one till open with a girl in her early 20’s and there was a long queue. For a time they opened a second, but it went back to one and I was still in the queue. I wasn’t the only person returning something and there was some impatience, as I got to be served the girl on the till was at the point of losing it – anxiety written across her face, bottom lip beginning to go, eyes reddening. She picked up the walkie-talkie, called for a manager and without much concern as to whether I or anyone else could hear she told him, ‘Take me off the till, I just can’t do this anymore.’ She continued to serve me while the manager was on her way, so I just leaned in a bit and said ‘Well done. You are doing the right thing. Look after yourself.’
Sunday morning we will look at some of the darker aspects of Christmas, while Sunday evening we will slow down and ‘listen’ to Brother Lawrence as he helps us in the way of ‘Practicing the Presence’.
We may well be familiar with the song, ‘Mary did you know?’ It explores the idea that the Annunciation, (Gabriel’s visit to Mary) explained to her that she was not only going to bear a child by the Holy Spirit, but this child would be great among the people. Well what about the question ‘Joseph did you know?’ Yes, an angel visited Joseph to tell him to marry Mary, but what other information was withheld? What did Joseph have to work through? What emotions stirred in him? Where did faith have to step in to fill his gap in understanding? On Sunday John will look at this ‘lesser figure’ in the story and use it to help us make sense of our stories.
The Sunday evening service is based on ‘The Environment and Political Action’ in this timely look at how we might influence politics and decision makers in our quest to care for God’s creation.
The Sermon on the Mount deals with the deep stuff. If we think we are familiar with it, have got the measure of it and can mark it off into neat little plots which are plain to read, then I suggest that more than likely we have missed the point; perhaps completely.
Sunday’s passage digs deep below the surface and addresses some gnarly roots which are difficult to see and even harder to get out, for judging and condemnation are indeed gnarly roots. But although the road that leads to life is, as Jesus will later say, narrow and hard, there is a reward for all who choose to pursue it.
Sunday evening Sally Hickson will be looking at the themes of violence and non-violence in The Passion, as we move towards our shared, reflective evening communion.
I well remember my first trip to Jubilee Mill, CAP’s HQ. We were introduced the wonderfully friendly staff, lead around their beautifully converted building and educated in the ways of their God-given vision. But my abiding memory was of piles of A4 pages on the desks on one very special team. These were the people who received from clients all the letters, claims and thinly veiled threats sent from creditors. The team stopped them landing through letter boxes, redirected them to the mill and beautifully, brutally and efficiently administrated the death out of them. They were miracle-workers, turning an unbearable weight of debt into bite-sized repayments with the sure and certain hope of financial freedom. Today we celebrate 10 years of a CAP Centre at ABC.
Sunday night we will celebrate our wonderful young people in November’s ‘Youth-In’ service.
One of the ideas behind us looking at the Sermon on the Mount was that it would elicit subjects which are highly relevant to contemporary living; and this ancient teaching doesn’t disappoint. Having reflected on our prediction towards accumulating wealth, on Sunday we turn to the question of worry, sadly a growing and widespread reality for many.
So we will be especially attentive to Jesus’ words as he brings a wonderful and liberating perspective to our troubled lives.
Sunday evening, Andrew will lead us in our Open to God Service as we reflect on our practicing of the presence of Jesus in our daily lives.