At this point in the year, I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of you who have faithfully given yourselves in service to the church over the past year. There are many people who serve in a variety of ways and your hard work really is greatly appreciated as we work together to share God’s love within and beyond our church communities.
Christmas, of course, is fast approaching! The first Christmas presents were seen in St Peter and St Paul’s Church on November 3rd at the United Benefice service when we collected Christmas shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, to be sent to children living in places in the world where they would, otherwise, be unlikely to receive a Christmas present. The three schools, three congregations, the Scouts, Youth HUB and Edward Bear Club all joined together in this project and we collected 94 shoeboxes in total. We celebrated with a wonderful service with musical contributions from 2 school choirs, and had a full church. Thank you, so much, to all who helped in any way!
Participating in outreach projects such as Operation Christmas Child is part of our responsibility as Christians; to share the love of God with others in practical ways. God longs to be fully present in all of our lives but, ironically, at Christmas, he can easily become squeezed out!
In an effort to help people engage with God over the busy period of Christmas, the Church of England has launched a campaign called ‘God with us.’ The authors of the ‘God with us’ literature state that:
‘December may be a time of year when moments of peace and quiet reflection are in short supply. God with us is designed to help you make the most of such moments whenever you can. It offers thirteen short and simple reflections to help you explore the message of so many Christmas readings and carols- that God is with us. There is one for each day from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day, as well as one each for the four weeks of Advent. Each reflection is accompanied by a picture, a challenge and a short Bible reading to help you make connections between the Christmas story and your own life and take the next step on your journey of faith.’
There will be ‘God with us’ booklets in church to take if you would like one. Or, alternatively, you can sign up on www.churchofengland.org/Christmas or text GODWITHUS to 88802 to get it delivered free to your inbox or your phone. My prayer is that each one of us is able to engage with the living God, made incarnate in Christ Jesus, this Christmas. Jesus loves each one of us deeply and longs to have a relationship with us.
You are very welcome at all of our Christmas services. You may also like to know that in the New Year, there will be two Thursday morning Holy Communion services each month: the first Thursday of the month at 10am at Horndon Church and the third Thursday at 10am at Orsett Church.
I look forward to seeing you over the Christmas period and in 2018.
With love and prayers,