December 2017

3rd December: Advent 1: Mark 13: 31-37

This is the first Sunday in Advent, the time of year when we look forward to the day when Jesus was born and came to live on earth.  We celebrate this on a specific day, Christmas Day and we know what date this is.  But we don’t know when Jesus will return to earth, when we will be called by God to live with him rather than on earth – and Jesus is reminding us to be ready, not putting off doing what he calls us to do. These four weeks of Advent give us a chance to think about how and where God wants us to be in our lives.

Can you take a few minutes each day in this busy run up to Christmas to spend a little time thanking God for all he has given us, particularly his son Jesus, and asking him to help us bring his love into our lives and those people we meet? 

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.  It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.  If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ”

 

10th December: Advent 2: Mark 1: 1-8

John the Baptist had a specific and very important job – he was to announce that Jesus was coming and encourage people to repent of their sins so they would be ready to meet the Messiah, God’s Son.  Sometimes God asks us to do some preparation work so that someone else can finish it off, take the credit, and move things forward, and it’s not always easy to accept what might seem to be a less important role.  Yet it is part of God’s plan, and as such, is important to him – and to those who he calls in this way.

Do you feel that some of the things you are doing are pointless, irrelevant, or time-consuming with no sight of an end result?  Can you see that this is all part of a wider plan, and however small our part, it is an important one which we should try and do with all our heart and soul – it is God’s work.

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” — “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ”.  And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptise you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”

 

17th December: Advent 3: John 1: 19-28

As Jesus began his work on earth, he called people to follow him, particularly his disciples who were to learn from him and eventually carry on his work in his name.  James and John recognised they were being called to do something special and immediately responded, almost immediately seeing how Jesus’ teaching and miracles were so powerful and obtained such results. Jesus needed them to ‘witness’ – to see and then tell others – what was happening.

Jesus needs followers and helpers today – people ready to do what he calls us to do and to share his love with others.  Can you respond to his call today and help spread his joy as Christmas approaches?

When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

 

24th December: Advent 4: Luke 1: 26-38

This well-known part of the Christmas story shows Mary, a young Jewish girl engaged to be married, being told that, though a virgin, she would give birth to a son who would be given a throne and would reign for ever – what amazing and shattering news!  Yet Mary responded, recognising that it was God calling her to do this – and knowing that God would somehow help her with this important task.

God has a plan for each one of us, though not perhaps as huge a challenge as that given to Mary – but can we have the courage and faith to do what he asks?  As we remember at Christmas God’s greatest gift to the world – his only son, Jesus, - may we each respond with love – “Here I am Lord – I will do whatever you ask in my life”

A happy and blessed Christmas to all of you from St. Margaret’s Lowestoft

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

 

31st December: Christmas 1: Luke 2: 15-21

On this last day of the year, we remember how the shepherds – very ordinary people in Jesus’ time – spread the news of his birth, and how Mary and Joseph also did what they had been told and had the baby named Jesus.  Sometimes very simple things we are called to do prove to be really important – to us and to other people.

Can we all take time to think back over 2017 and see God’s hand in our lives – giving us love and support in all he has called us to do?  Let us look for his guidance in the year ahead – however challenging it may be, he will always be there with us, helping us and encouraging us.

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about. ”So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

 




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