Last Sunday John finished his message with one of my favourite songs, Brother, sister, let me serve you.
It is a journeying song, which was appropriate as he was preaching on a journeying psalm, Psalm 123, a psalm the Israelites would have sung as they made their way to worship together in the temple in Jerusalem. In the same way, the words of that song have accompanied me throughout my life; from the heady days of beach mission where faith was being explored for the first time, through years of belonging to different churches where these words of commitment and faith and community have become sweeter and richer.
Brother, sister, let me serve you, let me be as Christ to you, pray that I might have the grace to let you be my servant too.
This Sunday John will again remind us of the nature of Christ who we seek to ‘be’ to each other as he preaches on ‘The Shepherd King’. Then we will gather for our annual general meeting (and final quarterly meeting) to find tangible ways of being Christ to each other; nominating people to lead ministries in our church, appointing deacons to serve our church, and committing ourselves to continue loving and serving each other, because:
We are pilgrims on a journey and companions on the road. We are here to help each other, walk the mile and bear the load.
I used almost those exact words when I contacted Rev Scott Cadman at Flinders Street Baptist Church in Adelaide this week, letting him know that we would be praying for them, and for the people of Adelaide, that we would ‘weep when you are weeping and when you laugh, we’ll laugh with you’ as they face the challenge of Covid containment there at this time. It has been a year of massive challenges for us as a church and as a wider community, country and world, and we want to continue to bear the burden for each other; by upholding the restrictions that are in place, praying for each other and being generous to those who are in need.
As Christmas approaches there are a number of very tangible ways we can express our love and care to others.
- Sharing our reflections – This year we are again inviting members of the congregation to write a short (250-500 word) reflection which will go out each day of Advent as an email from the office. You are welcome to choose any Bible reading that’s significant to you on one of the following themes; peace, joy and love. (The first week of Advent (hope) is now complete. Hooray!) I’ve attached a sample that Cecelia prepared during the week if you’re not quite sure what to do.
- Giving – We are again collecting for Communities at Work. On the 29 November (2 weeks away!) we will be collecting gifts for (4-19 year-olds) for their Christmas programme. Please bring your gifts – unwrapped, but in bags – to church on that day (or drop them at the office during the week).
From the 29th November you are also invited to use one of the Reverse Advent Calendar boxes (available from church/office) to give away some food each day of Advent – instead of eating another chocolate each day! On the 20th December (or just before) bring these boxes to church and we will take them to Communities at Work.
- Celebrating together at ‘Festive Feasts with Friends’ – On Saturday, 12th December, from 5pm, you are invited to set up your own Christmas feast on a table at the church. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to invite one or two new or newer people to join your table. Just book a table with a few more places. You can ask someone yourself – or Cecelia, John or I are very happy to match you up with some newer folk! Please make your bookings with the office firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday 9th December!
One verse that John didn’t include on Sunday is this one:
I will hold the Christ light for you in the night time of your fear; I will hold my hand out to you, speak the space you long to hear.
That is what we will remember again during Advent. That in the night time of our fear Christ came into our world. As we continue to watch and wait and pray and work for the full expression of hope, peace, joy and love that is coming, the kingdom, the shalom of God, let us hold out our hands to others and speak words of peace.
The peace of the Lord be with you all!