Messenger December 2017-January 2018 - Pause for Prayer
By Drew Melton
‘And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realise that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.’
C. S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe*
Those that know me know that I am a bit of a Scrooge. I think this is an unfair assessment, especially when taken in the traditional Dickensian sense, but nevertheless I am not one to jump wholeheartedly into the Christmas spirit. This year has been different, however. I find myself being open and cheery toward all things Christmas in a way I haven’t before. Perhaps this has something to do with having young children, and the joy they have associated with the Christmas season being so infectious. In any case, when I reread this quote from Lewis I immediately resonated with the sentiment.
Then it got me thinking about what we normally consider to be the ‘Christmas spirit’: festive decor in the windows at John Lewis, the arrival of the Christmas Blend espresso at Starbucks, the sporadic insertion of Mariah Carey into the Radio 1 playlists, and shopping. So much shopping. I won’t digress into a rant about shopping. I won’t.
As Christians, what is it that gets us into the Christmas spirit? I know what it should be, but being honest with myself I have to admit it is other things: my kids, the coffee, the catchy songs. It ought to be the hope and expectation that wells up inside when we think of the arrival of Jesus, God’s son, Emmanuel, the King, the Saviour, the Light, the Messiah. And it doesn’t even matter if we don’t fully grasp the significance of each of these titles and names, or if we don’t quite understand all the symbolism and Old Testament prophecy being fulfilled in the first chapters of Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ birth. In the scene from which the quote above comes, Lucy and her siblings have these inexpressible and unexplainable feelings well up inside them at the first mention of Aslan’s name. They don’t know who Aslan is, they don’t know what he’s coming to do, they are simply responding to Beaver’s proclamation: ‘They say Aslan is on the move—perhaps he has already landed.’
Let’s consider whether our Christmas spirit, however demonstrable we think it is, is an appropriate response to the news of the coming salvation. Consider whether your response to these verses is anything like Lucy’s response to the name Aslan:
In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
Let us remember especially during this festive time those who have experienced bereavement throughout the year, and pray for them in the inevitable sorrow that a joyful season can bring.
Let us give thanks for the geographical position God has granted our church. This is a particularly wonderful opportunity to share God’s love during the busyness of the weeks leading up to Christmas. Give thanks for all the things Eileen and Livingstones Cafe do to welcome and minister God’s love to people during the week.
Let us give thanks for the baptisms that have recently taken place and pray for those who were baptised.
Let us continue to pray for the leadership team. There is much to do, and each member of the leadership is seeking to carry out their responsibility faithfully and prayerfully. Please join us in seeking God’s will by praying.
There will be a great number of new or unfamiliar faces in our services over the coming weeks: friends and family visiting for baptism services, folks visiting for Christmas, or those coming along to one of the many Christmas services or events in our church. Please pray that we will be able to proclaim clearly the good news about Jesus’ coming in each of these services and events. If you would like to know how you can be involved with helping serve during these events, do contact the Church Office.
Remember those who are mentioned weekly in our church up-date: those experiencing long-term health issues, those abroad for various reasons, and others. Please also remember those in our congregation who are not able to make it to church, either for short or long-term reasons.
*The idea for using this quote came from reading a blog post by Andrew Wilson, who is Teaching Pastor at King’s Church London, and whose writings I recommend. If you want to check him out online, you can find his blog at www.thinktheology.co.uk.