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Third Candle of the Advent Wreath

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Advent Wreath – 3rd Candle – The Shepherd Candle or The Candle of Joy

At St Mary’s we light a candle each Sunday during Advent (the four Sundays leading up to Christmas).

Each candle is symbolic.  On Sunday 16th December we lit our third candle.

3rd CANDLE –  THE SHEPHERD CANDLE or THE CANDLE OF JOY

The angels sang a message of JOY! “…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:7-15)

2nd CANDLE – THE BETHLEHEM CANDLE or THE CANDLE OF PREPARATION

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Congratulations!

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CONGRATULATIONS to Josie Cresswell, a chorister since the age of 6, and latterly Head Chorister, who has won a place at the Birmingham Conservatoire to study singing from next September.

We wish her every success on her career path.

Thank You

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THANK YOU to all who donated chocolates for the TCT Christmas Event on December 20th. Anna has been absolutely amazed by the generosity of St Mary’s members – you gave another 600 individual chocolates OVER the 800 target!! Wow! Thank you so much

8:00am Communion & Friday Breakfast

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Have you ever thought about coming to the 8.00am Communion and breakfast on a Friday. Last week we had 12 folk come and it seems that this early morning start is proving ever more popular. We usually visit County Stores or Roots for breakfast (this is optional).

Jesus’ Ancestry – Sarah

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The Reading: Genesis 18:9-15

“So Sarah laughed to herself” (v.12) RSV

During these next week we shall consider the unlikely women who were part of the ancestral line of Jesus. They will reveal to us how God can weave the most unpromising material and the deepest hurts into fulfilling his purposes. Jesus was born in spite of unbelief (Sarah), unlove (Leah), incest (Tamar), prostitution (Rahab), foreign blood (Ruth), adultery (Bathsheba) and an unmarried mother (Mary)!

This week we consider the first, Sarah. She was the wife of Abraham, and was in many ways exemplary. Peter uses her as an example of an ideal wife and an example of godly submission (1 Peter 3:5-6). However, she failed through unbelief in the question of producing an heir for her husband. First of all she suggested that he produce a son through a surrogate, her maid Hagar. The resulting child, Ishmael, proved to be a thorn in the side of the family.

Secondly, Sarah laughed in unbelief when three divine visitors arrived at her tent. She overheard them foretelling to Abraham that he would have a son by Sarah. She knew she was past child bearing age, and had long since given up hope of having a child of her own. This word from the Lord seemed as foolishness to her. And yet, God in his mercy and to fulfil his plan caused his word to be fulfilled. Within a year she had produced Isaac!

Normally God requires our active participation by a response of faith. But sometimes he works in a sovereign way. Despite Sarah displaying lack of faith, the Lord wove her error into his redeeming purposes. In due course her descendants would produce Jesus.

In like manner God will use our ancestry (both the good and the bad), and indeed our own past failures if only we cry to him for mercy and let him work out his plan from now on. The past is not only forgiven but actually transformed so that it becomes part of his process. A mystery indeed!

Thank you Lord for my past, both the good and the bad. Redeem it so that what I am now, and what I may be in the future, will fulfil your holy purposes. Amen. 

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1 After her disbelief what enabled Sarah to conceive?

Hebrews 11:11

2 How did Abraham react to the news that Sarah would conceive?

Genesis 17:15-17

 

Second Candle of the Advent Wreath

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Advent Wreath – 2nd Candle – The Bethlehem Candle or The Candle of Preparation

At St Mary’s we light a candle each Sunday during Advent (the four Sundays leading up to Christmas).

Each candle is symbolic.  On Sunday 9th December we lit our second candle.

2nd CANDLE – THE BETHLEHEM CANDLE or THE CANDLE OF PREPARATION

God kept his promise of a Saviour who would be born in Bethlehem. Preparation means to “get ready”. Help us to be ready to welcome YOU, O GOD! “As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.‘ (Luke 3:4-6)

1st CANDLE – THE PROPHECY CANDLE or CANDLE OF HOPE

We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises made to us. Our hope comes from God. “And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.’ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:12-13)

Waiting – Noah

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The Reading:  Matthew 24:36-44 

Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” (v. 42) RSV

Sometimes we believe God has promised that something will happen and yet its fulfilment is delayed.  Noah believed that God had foretold that there would be a worldwide flood.  He used the waiting period to the greatest effect.  He built theArkthat God had instructed him to build.

He spent a lot of time and money investing in the future.  Until the rain fell his boat would have stood out like a white elephant in the desert!  His neighbours would have mocked him for being so impracticable, meantime carrying on with their normal daily life; eating, drinking and being merry.  They were marrying and carrying on their worldly business (v.38).

Now, none of the things they were doing was evil.  Sin is not necessarily living an evil life, but it is living a life independent of God.  It is living life our own way without bringing glory to God.  The chief purpose of life (and the reason for which God created us) is to “glorify God and to enjoy him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism).  Noah’s neighbours were living without reference to their Maker.  Now, Noah himself was not a perfect man.  In fact the story of his life after the flood is somewhat unsavoury. (Gen. 9:20-24)  However, what was far more important was his trust and obedience before his God.  Despite mockery and expense and effort he carried on and built the Ark.  He geared his life to what God said, and to the long term.  The result was not only his own salvation but that of his family and multitudes of God’s creatures.

If we are not to be tempted to live only for the present and to be absorbed in daily life, then let us follow Noah and listen to God’s Word.  Let us invest in the long term future, not in this life only but also the next.

Forgive me Lord when I don’t listen to you and when I fail to hear your warnings.  Give me a listening ear.  Amen. 

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1  Who else waited like Noah did?

    1 Peter 3:19-20

2   What was Noah’s saving grace?

     Hebrews 11:7

Unwanted Christmas Presents?

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Do you have any unwanted Christmas presents?

Your local St. Margaret’s Hospice shop would be delighted to receive them.