Saturday, 30 January 2010


Hebrews 2: 14 – 18 Luke 2: 21 – 40

Luke is the only Gospel writer who tells us anything about the childhood of Jesus. Either the other three didn’t know anything about his childhood, or thought that their readers wouldn’t be interested. It’s a generalisation, of course, but in the Roman world, unless you were a boy born into a princely family, babies and children were not considered important. Few people took any interest at all in children. Unwanted babies were left exposed to die. You were expected to grow up just as fast as possible and become a useful man or woman.

So if you were writing to tell the story of an important man – let alone a divine one – it would really not occur to you to write about his childhood. Of course, In the case of Jesus - his conception, yes – because that had to do with his divine status. His birth, yes – because that could be said to fulfil prophecy. But it would almost certainly not cross your mind that anyone would care about his childhood. Except Luke. Luke the Greek doctor, Luke the natural historical writer who picks out details from a story that brings individuals vividly to life, and whose Gospel reaches human places the others don’t touch.

This story has a fascinating cast of human characters. Firstly, proud parents carrying their first-born son in much the same way – and indeed in the same spirit – as we bring our baby into church for baptism; to commend him to God, and to pray that he or she may grow up to be godly and true, and men and women of integrity and faith. So Mary and Joseph bring Jesus into the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate him to God..

And there they meet, apparently by complete chance, two totally fascinating people, Simeon and Anna, who spring off the page as totally true to life. And, because through prayer and spiritual alertness they were inspired by God’s Holy Spirit, each in turn recognises in a baby no-one else would pay any attention to, a very special human whom they will never forget. And what they say as they take the child in their arms sears itself into Mary’s memory for ever.

This Sunday marks an important point in the church’s year. It is the Sunday when we stop looking back to Christmas, and begin to look forward to Lent, Good Friday and eventually Easter Day. That’s because, as we rejoice with Mary and Joseph at the birth of Jesus, we begin to understand something of what his future life will hold. “This child is destined to cause the rising and falling of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce you own soul also.” How true that prophecy was to prove.

Now today we are told to read it in conjunction with Hebrews chapter 2. It’s always interesting to ask why these passages are chosen. And in this case, it’s quite clear. We are being firmly steered in a certain direction. Today we are to take careful note of the fact that Jesus is in every respect a fully human child, who goes through all the experiences of childhood that we share, and grows up in a human family just as we did. Jesus is, in every respect, fully and totally human.

In my experience, most church-going Christians are very clear in their minds that Jesus was God who had taken on the form of a human man. But they find it much more difficult to square that with the fact that Jesus was 100% human through and through.

The Christians to whom the author of the letter to the Hebrews was writing have a similar difficulty, but for different reasons. They are Jewish, and everything in their belief and tradition emphasises a totally exalted view of God. God is so great and holy and powerful that they could not even take his name on their lips. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. How could such a holy God become a mere human being? That was for many too big a jump, and they settled for a sort of half-way house. Jesus had come from among the angels. He could be described as semi-divine, which sounded perhaps a reasonable compromise, until you realise that that makes Jesus neither fully human, nor fully God – and that was a hopeless solution which the writer of this letter is determined to rule out of court.

That’s not usually our problem but we have other difficulties. We have to manage to hold squarely in our minds that fact that Jesus was fully, and in every respect, human like us. And that he was also fully God. How those two natures could exist in one person was going to stretch the best minds of the ancient world, and cause much debate over the next centuries, but we had better not go there this morning or you won’t get any lunch – indeed you could still be here tomorrow.

But there’s much to ponder from thinking more deeply about what it means to us when we understand that Jesus really was in every respect a human being just like us – so that the writer to the Hebrews can say that we are his brothers and sisters, and that we belong to the same family.

First of all, this means that there is absolutely nothing that you and I experience as human beings that He does not totally understand from the inside out. Jesus was in every respect tempted as we are – and tempted to the uttermost, because he did not give way and fall into sin. There is no temptation and no suffering – physical, mental, spiritual – which we shall ever experience with which he does not truly empathise, because he has been there too. God is not above, aloof or remote from our experiences as human beings. The child who was brought into the Temple was to share our human life in all its joys and sorrows, all its excitements and hardships, and he was to face both the fear and the fact of death just as we shall. We express this in many of the hymns we sing:

Saviour, breathe forgiveness us o’er us / All our weakness thou dost know;
Thou didst tread this earth before us / Thou didst feel its keenest woe.
Lone and dreary, faint and weary, / Through the desert thou didst go. OR

For he is our childhood’s pattern / Day by day like us he grew;
He was little, weak and helpless / Tears and smiles like us he knew;
And he feeleth for our sadness /And he shareth in our gladness. OR

Have we trials and temptations / Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged / Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful / Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness / Take it to the Lord in prayer.

As today we contemplate Mary and Joseph proudly carrying their first-born son into the Temple to dedicate him to God, and then allow our minds to carry forward to everything he was going to experience. We can let it sink deep into our consciousness that whatever joys and sorrows, fears, temptations and pains we have carried into church this morning, we can with confidence take them to the Lord in prayer. If you can really and truly grasp that, it actually changes everything, down to the very deepest level of consciousness. Many of our burdens are buried somewhere – often quite deep down - so take a few moments to try and bring them to the surface. And then take them to the Lord in prayer – the Lord who knows all too well what it means to be human, and who is willing to meet us exactly where we are to minister his healing, forgiveness and grace.

Secondly, we can allow this child to be our inspiration – our role model - as well our deepest source of strength and comfort. Each day Jesus would place his life into the hands of God, and receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit. And with that limitless resource of love and power, he would go out in faith to face whatever came his way, and in the end not even death could defeat him. If we allow him day by day to walk alongside us, it is truly amazing how our strength and confidence grows, how our faith can blossom, how our attitudes and reactions can change.

The child in Mary’s arms can make many very practical changes to our daily lives. If Jesus is really the brother of every other human being, as the writer to the Hebrews says, then how must we react when we see one of those brothers or sisters in distress or practical need? How must we react when in dispute, or tempted to anger, impatience, gossip, slander, malice?

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul brings this to its logical conclusion. We are all one in Christ Jesus - all brothers and sisters in his family. Ponder the implications of that. As Paul urges, how we must cultivate the fruit that the Spirit gives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

So, as we share the peace, and come to communion this morning, I would like to suggest that we focus our minds and prayers on one aspect of our lives where there is pain or suffering, and where Christ can meet us today just where we are, to bring his strength and guidance into that situation and bring about change. And then, one aspect of our lives, where he wants to challenge our attitude to others – near or far - and prompt a particular change – a particular action.

If we listen to him carefully, I believe he has a special word for each one of us this morning. Do listen and do what the Lord says. It could really change your life.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Life in the Jubilee Year - Sunday 24 January 2010 – Luke 4:14-21, Kim

The writer of this Gospel Luke, has gone to great lengths and detail in the first three chapters to inform the reader of the exact identity of Jesus. He begins with the story of the birth of Jesus and shows his genealogy through the ages to Adam, the son of God. Chapter three concludes with the baptism of Jesus in which a voice came from heaven saying, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Luke’s endeavour is to persuade the reader that Jesus is the Son of God in order to prepare us for the coming ‘punch line’ that is, the good news that Jesus is about to proclaim.

Luke says that Jesus was about thirty years old when he started his public ministry, and Jesus begins his ministry with preaching and teaching of the Good News in the synagogue as was his custom on the Sabbath day and they gave him the book of Isaiah to read. Although they gave him the book, it was Jesus who sought out the text to read. The text would have been the one was most appropriate for the day. With that in mind, the Isaiah text would have been most appropriately read on the Day of Atonement announcing the Jubilee year, and that was the day of the reading. Jesus does two things with this Isaiah text. He uses it to make his official public proclamation of his coming ministry. And he fulfils the scripture in their hearing. But it is much more than that; Jesus is doing something special. And as Luke points out in great detail, Jesus is the Son of God, who is reading the Isaiah text and responding to it. The simple reading has become a divine action and fulfilment of a promise, for when Jesus speaks things happen. The stunning reply that Jesus gave to the Isaiah reading affects us all and therefore calls for a better understanding of the Isaiah text to find out how it affects us today. Only from studying the text can one see and feel the impact of Jesus’ action upon all of us, especially when one considers Jesus as the Son of God with all authority in heaven and on earth. Jesus reads, “to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour,” to proclaim the Jubilee year with all its intentions. A Jubilee year is a year of celebration. It is a year to celebrate Israel’s entry into the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. To celebrate Israel’s liberation from slavery in Egypt. And above all, to celebrate God’s goodness towards his called people, Israel.

The Jubilee year is the year that follows seven Sabbath years. The celebration of a Sabbatical year included such things as allowing the land to lie fallow, to give rest to people from much of their ordinary work, a time to be taught and trained in God's law. Luke mentions that the beginning of Jesus’ ministry began with preaching and teaching God's Word. He shows how Jesus was indeed honouring God and celebrating the Sabbatical year. Furthermore, it is in this year that debts are cleared: a time when mortgaged land is returned to its owners and Hebrew slaves are freed, it is a time of restoration and fulfilled hope. It did not matter whether a person’s debt was large or small; it was cleared in a Jubilee year.

Both the Sabbatical and Jubilee year have themes of forgiveness and restoration. These celebrative events remind us and continue to declare the nature of God and his will towards all people. God’s will is to forgive and restore all people no matter what their sin, whether large or small. As Jesus was already honouring and celebrating the Sabbatical year by preaching and teaching, then one can assume that Jesus will also continue to honour and celebrate the Jubilee year according to the will of God. Unfortunately, the practice in the Jubilee year, the year of forgiveness and restoration was mostly ignored and remained unfulfilled. People continued to ignore and sin against God by going their own way. The Jubilee year was meant to be a means to set people free from poverty and slavery, and to remind people that the land and all that is on it belongs to God. Fortunately, God’s plan for enduring salvation is not dependant upon a sinful people. Sin, self-centred human nature, is the cause that has prevented the celebration and fulfilment of the Jubilee year. People have failed to care for each other and above all failed to honour God in all things. And so the people continued to live with all forms of suffering, living only for a hope that one day a saviour would come for them.

Today, you and I are no different to the people at the time of Jesus. There is suffering of all kinds around us. Sin, guilt, fear, and self-centredness continue to rob people of life. We can be guilty of actions that have caused someone's misfortune, and guilty for failing to take action where we have sat back and did nothing to help someone in trouble. Guilt, fear, and self centeredness take us as prisoners, robbing us of life and alienating us from family, friends and our neighbours. Only forgiveness can break the shackles and chains of our imprisonment that has come through sin of all kinds. Forgiveness restores relationships and gives back life.

We know that difficult stuff, accidents, misfortune happen, simply because we are not perfect; we are subject to error and making mistakes. It is disturbing to hear news reports of loved ones killed in road accidents or people killed by a member of their own family. What is also disturbing is to hear others wanting to tear out the heart of the person that had caused that unfortunate death. They themselves behave like murderers and are guilty before God. The thing that is missing from this scene of terror is under-standing, forgiveness, and care for each other. Whenever people do not care for each other and do not forgive one another, anger and hatred prevails. As a result, people become isolated, families can be torn apart, boundaries and walls are created, and congregations disappear. Forgiveness and humility is needed to bring about freedom from anger, hatred, guilt, fear, and through forgiveness there is restoration of life.

In the reading from Isaiah, Jesus is reminding us about the Jubilee Year. He is reminding us of our responsibilities to care for each other, and by those words he is also reminding us of our sin and failures to each other. It is an uncomfortable reminder for many that our sin is especially a debt before God.

The Jubilee Year had been impossible to keep for the Israelites. For the same reasons it is impossible for all of us to live a life acceptable to God in every way. Jesus who is reading this text is more than the son of Joseph, a carpenter's son; he is God in the flesh. Jesus as God is speaking these words anew. And God concludes and says, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." What does this mean for us?

Today, God fulfils what is impossible for us to achieve.

Today, God fulfils the Jubilee year on our behalf.

Today, God has cancelled our debt to Him.

Today, God has forgiven us our sins.

Today, God has set us free to live.

Today, God has set us free to enter the promised land of heaven.

Today, God gives us renewed life through his presence with us.

Since we have been set free through the love of God, we can live again. Not only have the words of God set us free but they also call us to give life to others because of the goodness he has first given us. The list of things to help others, so that they too can have life, is endless. The short list to take where ever you go and what ever you to do is to ask the question, “What would Jesus do?”

Would Jesus help in the home? Yes.

Would Jesus treat everyone with respect? Yes. Help the sick? Yes.

Would Jesus help the unemployed? Yes.

Would Jesus help the homeless? Yes.

Help the poor? Yes.

Would Jesus help the refugees? Yes.

Would Jesus care for human rights? Yes.

Care for all creation? Yes.

Would Jesus be our Good Shepherd? Yes.

With the presence of Jesus in our life all of us can continue in the spirit of the Jubilee year as we ask daily for forgiveness and renewed life. The Jubilee year has no end since forgiveness and renewed life continue to be freely given by Jesus. Jesus started his public ministry by forgiving us our debts so that we may have life and be free to follow him into abundant life, into his public ministry. So let us start this year, start today, by forgiving each other and thereby giving back life. Jesus said, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Therefore let us go out with the peace of God and celebrate the Jubilee year with others. Amen.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Sunday 17 January 2010 Luke 2:1-11 Melanie (There was no post last week due to snow!)

We pray that God would meet us where we are and move us on to where he would have us be

The gospel reading today of turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana is often described as the first of Jesus’ signs.
We all know the story well – of the wedding feast where the wine ran out, and Jesus told the servants to fill the barrels with water, and the master when tasting it, said it was the finest wine.
But I wonder what we mean when we describe the story as a sign?
The nearest equivalent for us today when we think of a sign is a road sign.
But this might not be a bad analogy.
Most road signs are clear, marked out. They stand by the side of the road as an indication of a different direction.
Turning water into wine was definitely a clear signal. It pointed the way to a new kingdom – the kingdom of God.
A kingdom that would come in the future, but that also was here with Christ in his ministry on earth.
It was a sign of the mystery of God, revealed in one person.
Road signs also offer a choice.
We can follow them, or not.
Just as the servants at the wedding feast had a choice about filling the barrels with water.
I often think that the real miracle here is that they did fill those barrels – I’m not sure that I would have done the same thing.
Road signs command our attention.
In the same way Jesus arrives at the wedding feast and immediately people respond to his request.
There must have been something about him that made people stop and want to obey.
Finally road signs point beyond ourselves to a different place – to a place that is new, and that demands exploration.
Just as Jesus used that miracle to point away from himself toward the kingdom of heaven –
as if saying to those around,
look at what is to come, and the new age that has dawned.
Today though, what signs are there around us that do the same things?
That are clear
Point the way
Offer choice
Command attention
Point beyond ourselves to a different place.

Increasingly I find that signs for me come not through words, but through simple actions.
I remember once at theological college, sitting in the chapel, waiting for a service to begin.
A young lecturer came in, and immediately bent her head in prayer.
There was something about that simple action that touched me – and I still look back on it as a key moment.
Perhaps it was the passion, or perhaps it was an acknowledgement that we are nothing without God – whatever it was, that one moment had an impact on me.
I’m sure that she would never have seen herself as a sign – and she almost certainly has no idea of the impact of her action – but it was nevertheless a sign for me.
Then there was the lady at the cross – I was so touched by this that I wrote a poem about the scene :

The woman and the cross

She placed the flowers so carefully
I saw and felt the love
that she felt within her heart
as she knelt in silence there.

The London streets were busy
Traffic everywhere.
People hurrying to beat the rush
of the Friday commuter train.

No one stopped to look
or wonder at the woman knelt there.
No one bothered to pause
or take the time to care.

She didn’t seem to worry
or be distracted by those around.
Her thoughts were firmly focussed
on those flowers on the ground.

They lay there on the steps
surrounded by a blaze of red.
The poppies seemed to hold the hands
of the flowers in their midst.

She only stopped a minute
but it seemed to me an age.
As I watched her from the window
- the sadness in her face.

I wondered who they were for,
the flowers that she laid.
Perhaps a long lost son
or a husband long since dead.

And then I began to envy
the woman in her grief.
At least she had time to stop and mourn
to be still in a London street.

I envied her the time she spent
engaging with her thoughts.
I even envied her sadness
as she stopped there to pause.

But her stillness made me think
I too needed time to stop.
To dwell on what was happening
to kneel before my God.

I slowly came to realise
that I spent my time in rush.
Answering so many questions,
working for my crust.

Work had kept me going
Please don’t get me wrong
I wouldn’t be without it
or the love of everyone.

But somehow the balance had shifted
I no longer made the time
to stop, be still, reflect
on things within my life.

I know that looking back
Each day had brought fresh trials.
That living alongside cancer
had been hard at times.

Four long rounds of chemo,
three more major ops.
Endless hospital visits
would leave anyone bruised.

But up till now I’d barely stopped
and taken time to rest.
All the time my motto
had been to do my best.

I’d forgotten that at times
my best was not enough.
I needed times of stillness
when things were especially tough

I knew the God I believed in
would forgive my human ways.
I hoped I’d now find time
for stillness and for space.

The woman with the flowers
had taught me much that day
I’d seen that precious moment
when she too had stopped to pray.

I wish I could remind others
how important it is to stop.
To find a place of stillness ;
to be alone with God.

But it seems to be a message
that no one wants to hear.
Least of all myself
or anyone struggling with prayer.

Perhaps we all need flowers
to lay down at the cross.
Allow ourselves some stillness,
time and space to stop.

Yes, turning the water into wine at Cana was a miracle, but it was also a sign of things to come.
New directions, new horizons, as we turn away from Bethlehem and move on to Jerusalem.
Our challenge today is to find those signs in our own lives that point towards new horizons,
and to see God at work in them.

Are there people/places that are signs for you of God at work today

How would you have responded to Jesus request to fill the barrels with water?

Sunday, 3 January 2010

The Epiphany


Ephesians 3: 1 – 12 Matthew 2: 1 – 12

Today we celebrate Epiphany – a Greek term which has at its heart the word LIGHT. It was the light of a star which guided the wise men to the newly born Jesus, and Jesus was to be himself a ‘light to lighten the Gentiles’ as Simeon discerned when – in the temple – he took this baby into his arms. The magi represent any wise person, of any race, from any part of the world, who perceives a light that they believe may lead them to the ultimate truth of God, and then has the persistence to follow it by whatever route and through whatever hardship, until it leads them to find its source in Jesus.

When Paul had seen that great light on the Damascus Road and understood that it was Jesus himself who was the true light, he made it his lifelong mission to tell the whole world that the light they were seeking (consciously or not) was to be found in Jesus – the light of the world. Hence our first reading this morning from Ephesians chapter 3.

It is the light of truth – emanating from Jesus - which is revealed firstly in a helpless baby; then in words of wisdom and acts of mercy and healing; then in sacrifice; and finally in victory over the power of sin and death. It is the light that comes, not from books (ancient or modern) or some vast store of human wisdom, but from a person, Jesus, who is ‘the way, the truth and the life’.

In the wonderful prologue in John’s Gospel chapter one, we read (1:4,5) that Jesus was the true light who was coming into the world. John writes: “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not ‘overcome’ it – or in most modern translations – ‘understood’ it.”

It’s worth just pausing a moment to consider why there are two different words in English in that verse, which seem at first glance to mean rather different things. Does John mean that the darkness has never conquered the light that comes from Jesus, or that the darkness has never understood it?

The Greek word essentially means to seize, take hold of, or take possession of something or someone. So if I were to march down the aisle and take you by the scruff of the neck and throw you out, that word would fit. I would have seized control of you.

But if it is the case that you are sitting in your pews, not understanding a word I am talking about, that word would fit there too. You have not ‘taken hold’ of my meaning.

But we have the very convenient word in English to ‘grasp’ which I think fits very well in this context. You can grasp a person (as in a wrestling match), but you can also grasp (or fail to grasp) the meaning of what someone is saying. So my personal attempt at a translation of this verse in John 1:5 would be: “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not grasped it.”

If you go into a dark room and switch on the light, the darkness cannot take control of the light, it has to give way. But it is also true to say that the darkness cannot understand what light is, because they occupy different realms, always in opposition.

As we enter a new year, it seems to me that we are surrounded by much darkness which seems to have no grasp on any true light. Our world is threatened with the lethal effects of climate change which threatens not only our children and grandchildren, but our brothers and sisters across the globe. But Copenhagen produced very little light which neither truly grappled with, nor even really understood the darkness.

Christmas Day nearly witnessed catastrophic death through terrorism, as well as divine birth. More and more safety measures will never secure a more peaceful world. The darkness in the heart of a suicide bomber cannot begin to comprehend even ordinary daylight.

We face economic darkness, because the blind greed of the world of finance cannot begin to comprehend poverty, or the everyday needs of ordinary people, or the concept of a lifetime’s hard work to secure a modest pension. Again, darkness cannot grasp what light means.

And below the radar of newspaper headlines lie huge dark clouds of anxiety for countless people, who await hospital consultations, face family breakdown, debts beyond their ability to pay, threats to job and livelihood, and those for whom a new year heralds all the problems of age, health and indeed life itself.

Where is the Epiphany light which all the surrounding darkness can neither conquer nor understand? Perhaps it’s significant that the wise men did not find some great solution to our economic woes, nor a winning lottery ticket to mask our true needs. Instead they found a baby. Small and very vulnerable, but a bringer of joy and hope.

We receive many circular letters at Christmas-time, many now with photographs. And it seems to me that this year more and more of them have joyful pictures of babies, smiling at the camera, or being proudly held up by parents or grand-parents so that we may all share their happiness and hope for the future. The baby is the most important gift they are taking into 2010.

It is usually in the small things that the light shines through the darkness. I am a great admirer of the Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, and he wrote an article in the Saturday Times on 19th December, part of which I want to share with you. He writes:

“As the new year approaches, with the recession still in force, I find myself giving thanks to God for all the things that cost nothing and are worth everything. I thank him for the love that has filled our home for so many years. Life is never easy. We’ve had our share of pain, but through it all we discovered the love that brings new life into the world, allowing us to share in the miracle of birth and the joy of seeing children grow....

“I thank him for those rare souls who lift us when we are laid low by the sheer envy and malice by which some people poison their lives and the lives of others. I thank him for the fragments of light he has scattered in so many lives, in the kindness of strangers and the unexpected touch of souls across the boundaries that once divided people and made them fearful of one another....

“I thank him for the atheists and agnostics who keep believers from believing the unbelievable, forcing us to prove our faith by the beauty and grace we bring into the world. I thank him for all the defeats and failures that make leadership so difficult, because the hard things are the only ones worth doing, and because all genuine achievement involves taking risks, making mistakes, and never giving up.

“I thank him for the gift of faith, which taught me to see the dazzling goodness and grace that surround us if only we open our eyes and minds. I thank him for helping me to understand that faith is not certainty, but the courage to live with uncertainty; not a destination but the journey itself. I thank him for allowing me to thank him, for without gratitude there is no happiness, only the fleeting distraction of passing pleasures that grow ever less consequential with the passing years.

“Oscar Wilde was right when he defined a cynic as one who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. The richer Britain became, the more cynical it grew. It put its faith in a financial house of cards. It looked at house prices and thought itself rich. It created the religion of shopping, whose original sin was not having this year’s model or must-have, and whose salvation lay in spending money you don’t have, to buy things you don’t need, for the sake of a happiness that doesn’t last.

“Rarely was a faith more seductive or addictive. The wake-up call, which is what the recession is, came just in time. So next year, let’s enjoy joy itself, which – unlike its gift-wrapped, instantly obsolete substitutes, is given freely to all those who bid it welcome.”

Thank you, Jonathan Sacks – you’ve got it exactly right! Those are wonderful examples of the light we can give the world this year and which the darkness all around cannot grasp. But we have one vital thing to add to make our light shine even more brightly this year. In Bach’s wonderful Christmas Oratorio, in the section for Epiphany, there comes the visit of the wise men. And the chorus sing their insistent question as those wise men come to Jerusalem: “Where, where, where, where is the new born king?” And the alto soloist simply answers the question with the words: “Seek him within my heart, for in me he consents to dwell!”

No matter how dark the future may appear, with that affirmation we can venture forth into this new year with a joy in our hearts that no darkness can quench.


1. Describe your feelings as you begin another year. Use as many descriptive words as you can. What do you fear? What do you hope for?
2. In what ways does your Christian faith help you to face the future?
3. What do you think the priorities for St Michael’s should be in the coming year? How can we make them happen? Do you feel hopeful and optimistic about our Church in 2010 or.....what?