Rector's Advent and Christmas 2019 Pew Letter
Advent Reflection. The Christmas TV adverts are well underway but I’m not sure who’s winning. I spoke at the Christmas Lights Switch-on event in the freezing cold and so it seems Christmas is upon us. There is of course nothing not to love about Christmas but to get the most out of it we need to take Advent seriously. There is a T-shirt that says: “Jesus is Coming - look busy!”. I suppose it is quite funny but it actually presents a real and life-changing truth: Jesus is coming and when He returns His mission will be a far cry from that undertaken by the ‘babe wrapped in swaddling clothes’. Christmas is about that babe – the God incarnate, God-made-man – who came to save us from our sins, to die instead of us so that we could be reconciled with God and have eternal life. He came first as a saviour and Lord. It is an enchanting story of the power of love over hate and of self-sacrifice and as a rescue plan is so audacious, so costly as to be almost unbelievable.
But what of Advent? As we all know we are now left in these ‘in-between times’ – death has been defeated but it persists; our sins have been paid for but still abound; Satan defeated but still active. As Christians struggle and are persecuted we can wonder when will it all end? The answer is that it will end but we don’t know when. We know that Satan will finally be vanquished, death itself be destroyed and sin and evil wiped out. Jesus will achieve all of this when He returns: not as a babe but as a conquering sword-wielding king destroying all evil. His return will be very confusing for those who have rejected and scorned him but for those who have made a decision to follow Jesus it will be a time of great joy. So as we wait we should strive to live lives devoted to serving God and proclaiming the gospel, so as many people as possible get to recognise Jesus when He returns. This is what discipleship is all about – getting to know Jesus and getting to do the things that Jesus did when he lived in Palestine: proclaiming the Good News, healing the sick, making disciples and baptising them. The Advent season is about asking yourself: “am I ready for Christ’s return?”. Take time out to examine yourselves. How is your walk with the Lord? How is your prayer life? Are you reading your bible daily? Are you serving Him or just along for the ride? Are you really ready to meet Him?
Christmas Services. We are fast approaching the second most important time in the Church calendar and the most important time as far as guest services are concerned. Over the next few weeks we can expect around 2000 people to visit the Parish Church and we must do our utmost to make their experience so good that they want to return!
As ever we’ll be pouring ourselves out to make our major services really good so I hope and pray you’ll be inviting friends and neighbours along. This is the programme:
· Messy Church 8th December at 3pm – fun for families.
· Crib Service at the 9.30am on the 15th – children come dressed as angels, shepherds, cattle and wise men. Perfect to ask neighbours/friends with young families along to.
· Carols by Candlelight are also on the 15th at 6pm – with Buckingham Choral Society.
· Contemporary Carol Service at the 6pm on 22nd December. Come wearing Christmas jumper.
· Christmas Eve Christingle Services at 3pm and 5pm on Christmas Eve (free tickets available at www.bpchurch.uk/Christmas)
· 11pm Christmas Eve Midnight Communion Service
· Christmas morning - Don’t forget that there is a combined service on Christmas morning at 10am (as well as an 8am BCP).
· 29th December Morning. There is no 9.30am but an 11.15am traditional Communion service.
· 29th December - Evening. The usual 6pm service.
Help. We need lots of helpers at the Carols by Candlelight, Christingles and Midnight Communion services. If you can help, please sign-up on the boards at the rear of church or via the link at www.bpchurch.uk/Christmas. This is VITAL so that we can welcome and look after people really well.
Christingle Drama. If you’d like to take part please email Jayde Crouch firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible – we are still recruiting the cast.
Alpha is starting on 29th January. Do please be thinking of who you can invite. Making disciples is what we’re all about. Full details at bpchurch.uk/alpha.
The ‘Traditional Eucharistic Service’ study group is progressing well as it mulls over ways to make the service more missional. If you’ve any thoughts do let Peter Williams know. Until this group has concluded its study we’ll not be making any adjustments to service timings.
Chancel Painting. We’ve received approval from the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) for a large painting to be completed by Gino Ballantyne and hung in the chancel. This is a very exciting project and it will enhance the chancel immensely.
The Clock. The DAC has also approved the refurbishment of our venerable old clock and the re-activation of the chimes and the work will be done in the New Year.
Side Chapel Re-Ordering. We have at long last submitted plans to the DAC for the re-ordering of the side chapel which will mainly involve removing the existing altar and canopy and moving the beautiful stained glass window from the kitchen (where few see it) to its rightful position at the end of the South aisle behind the current altar. This will have a dramatic impact on the interior aesthetics of the church and return it to being closer to how George Gilbert-Scott intended it to look like.
Baby Zion Holland. I have never mentioned individuals who need pray before in my letters but baby Zion who was born 2 months premature is as I write struggling with a collapsed lung at the JR. It is serious and I’m sure you can imagine what it must be like for Jade, Olly and the family. Please pray earnestly for her healing.
Do also pray for the General Election and for peace and reconciliation in the aftermath.
I wish you all the very best Christmas and look forward to seeing you at one of our many services. Share the good news – invite a friend along!
The Advent dismissal:
“When Christ returns, may he find us watching and waiting”