Friday, 18 December 2009

A Merry Christmas to all our readers!

I've spent the week doing Christmas things; here are some highlights.

Monday night was spent at Currie High School watching Ebenezer, a musical version of the story of Scrooge. It was an excellent production, with lots of children taking part, lots of enthusiasm and talent and a very good story. You know the end of the story in the original Dickens "it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well..."

On Tuesday morning, I had my annual visit to the Open Door Cafe, the Church mother and toddler group. I'm too young to be Santa, so I go to be his little helper and hand out the presents which the mums put in the sack for their children. It's great to be there and chat over a cup of coffee. One little girl, when it was her turn to come for her present, just stood there, not sure what to make of the man in the strange tie and bright red hat!

Wednesday was nativity day, 2 of them in the Primary school. The first was acted out by the Nursery and the lead part was delivered with great energy by the little girl playing the Whoops-a-daisy angel. The second was performed by primaries 1-3 and was fantastically well put together and acted out. My toes were under threat, sitting in the front row, from a very enthusiastic lamb, hopping about and we took our hats off to the P1 boy who just sang his heart out, even if completely out of tune!

Thursday was the Guild of Friendship Lessons and Carols service, with carols to sing (though I had no singing voice on Thursday!) and Bible readings and a little poetry. The ladies thoroughly enjoyed their afternoon and each brought a present for the sack so that everyone had something to take home with them; what a great way of showing a sense of belonging together and support for one another.

In the midst of all of this, I was sharing the lead in an assembly at Currie High School for the whole of first and second years, some 360 children, hearing what Christmas is all about; they might not all understand and fewer will believe, perhaps, but they have all heard the gospel.

This is just fantastic; and there's more to come; Church nativity play on Sunday morning; lessons and carols in the evening, with a little bit of a surprise that I've prepared; and on it goes. What a great chance to meet and talk to people and build relationships; what a great opportunity to tell lots of people the story of Jesus.

Just make sure that you find some space to remember Jesus: "To us a child is born..."

Friday, 4 December 2009

I wouldn't start from here!

You know the old joke: the visitor to Dublin is lost. He is trying to find his way to Croke Park for the rugby match, but can't see it anywhere. So he stops someone in the street and says "can you tell me how to find Croke Park?" Famously, the local worthy replies "Oh, if I was going to Croke Park, I wouldn't start from here!"

What are your hopes and aspirations for life? We all have them and some are more ambitious than others; some of us perhaps long to have a particular job, all we've ever really wanted to do, but have not achieved that yet. Others' ambitions are for your family or for other personal goals and targets that you want achieve in life. Some have hopes and aspirations for Church life and anyone who is in Church leadership of any kind should have hopes and aspirations for Church life.

No matter how high and grand your ambitions are for yourself, for others, for Church, here is the very simple thought behind this blog today. We have to start where we are. That might be stating the obvious and if you're going away shaking your head, disappointed that there's nothing more profound than that, sorry! But the truth is, we need to start where we are. It's no use wishing that we could start somewhere else; it's no use wishing that somehow we could turn the clock back to the way life was before, or turn the clock forward a few months to have another starting place because we are faced with some hard choices now.

We have to start where we are. That means we start to fulfil our ambitions in the circumstances in which we find ourselves today; that we make choices and decisions in these present circumstances; that we work with the skills and talents and abilities that we now have, even if we want to learn new ones in the future; that we make the best use of our present resources rather than wishing we were millionaires!

In developing Church life, we have to fulfil our hopes and aspirations from where we are on Dec 4th 2009. The challenge for us is to make the best use of the resources (people, finance and building) that we have and make choices and decisions based on this starting point.

Where these choices and decisions will lead you, will lead us as Church, I don't know, but God will guide you and will honour these steps we make in faith.