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Angels – Ministering Spirits

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 The Reading:  Hebrews 1:1-14 

Are they not all ministering spirits …” (v.14) RSV

I have never seen an angel, and yet I believe that we are surrounded by these unseen beings.  The Bible refers to angels nearly 300 times! God not only created the world and all that is material, he also created the immaterial world including spiritual beings.  These are known in the Bible as angels.

Now you may be accustomed to calling certain people like nurses, ‘angels’.  But that is not what the Bible is talking about.  You may also believe that the Bible is merely talking about human beings who are God’s messengers, for the word ‘angel’ means ‘messenger’.  But despite angels sometimes appearing as human beings (see more about this in the next few weeks) we must not lose sight of the fact that God has created myriads of unseen beings.

Why?  As our reading today says, “Are they not ministering spirits …?” (v.14).  They are at God’s beck and call, not ours.  But nevertheless they are “sent forth (by God) to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation.” (v.14).

One of their main functions therefore is to protect God’s people.  Do we believe that there is this silent army on stand-by?  Remember how Jesus’ Father could have sent “more than twelve legions of angels” (Matthew 26:53) to deliver him in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Or how the eyes of Elisha’s servant were opened to see that “the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about” (2 Kings 6:17).  The words of Elisha to his servant could equally well be applied to us: “Fear not, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:16).

We are not simply dependent on the gifts, people and forces that we can see.  There are unseen hands at work whose task it is to protect us and bring us through to salvation.  We must not assume that we are always going to be protected from all troubles.  Sometimes suffering serves our Father’s purpose.  But oftentimes when we call upon Him, he will send his “ministering spirits” to our aid. (Psalm 34:7)

Thank you Lord that I am never alone, and need fear no evil.  Send your holy angels to protect me. Amen. 

Explore More

1  How was Lot protected by angels?      

Genesis 19:1, 12-17

2  Note how angels ministered to Jesus in the Wilderness.

Matthew 4:10-11

Fifth Candle of the Advent Wreath

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The Christ Candle

 

Halleujah!  Christ is born and we light our 5th candle of the Advent Wreath.

5th CANDLE – “CHRIST CANDLE” – The white candle reminds us that Jesus is the spotless lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins! His birth was for his death, his death was for our birth! “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!‘” (John 1:29)

4th CANDLE – THE ANGEL CANDLE or THE CANDLE OF LOVE

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Service of Lessons & Carols

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You can listen to our Service of Lessons & Carols which was held on the 21st December 2014 at 6:30pm.

It was led by Musical Director Brian Cresswell with St Mary Magdalene and Organist Andrew Carter FRCO.

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Introductory Organ Music – Noels by Dandrieu, Daquin and Balbastre (French 18th Century)

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

1st Reading – Genesis 3:1-11, 22-23

Choir – Adam lay ybounden (Anon 15th Century)

It Came Upon The Midnight Clear

2nd Reading – Isaiah 11:1-5

Choir – Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming (14th Century melody)

3rd Reading – Micah 5:2a

Choristers – In The Bleak Midwinter

O Little Town of Bethlehem

4th Reading – Luke 2:1-7

Choir – Maria Wiegenlied (Martin Boellitz)

O Come, All Ye Faithful

5th Reading – Luke 2:8-20

Choir – On Christmas Night

While Shepherds Watched Their Flock By Night

6th Reading – Matthew 2:1-12

Choir – Lo! Star-led chiefs Assyrian odours bring (William Crotch)

We Three Kings of Orient Are

7th Reading – John 1:1-14

The Address:  Revd Rod Corke

Choir – Fanfare Gloria in Excelsis Deo

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Organ Recessional Voluntary – Finale from Organ Symphony No 2 (CM Widor)

Fourth Candle of the Advent Wreath

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The Angel Candle or Candle of Love

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 21st December we lit our fourth candle.

4th CANDLE – THE ANGEL CANDLE or THE CANDLE OF LOVE

The angles announced the good news of a Savior. God sent his only Son to earth to save us, because he loves us! “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)

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

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Who is King? – Cyrus

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 The Reading:  Isaiah 44:24-45:2 

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,” (45:1) RSV

Cyrus is not a king of Israel, but the king of the Medes and Persians who conquered Babylon whilst the Jews were in exile there.  Why speak of him?  Because he is the only person in the Old Testament referred to as ‘Messiah’ – “Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus” (45:1).  The word ‘anointed’ is ‘Messiah’ in Hebrew, and ‘Christ’ in Greek.

Cyrus was, like all the kings of the earth, under the sovereign control of Almighty God.  Though he was in his own right a powerful and successful king, he was nevertheless at the disposal of the King of kings.  God used Cyrus to capture Babylon from Belshazzar and the Babylonians, and to instigate a new policy for handling all the foreign nations that were held captive in that city and across the whole empire.  The Israelites had been in exile for well nigh 70 years.  God was now arranging for them to start returning to their own land, to Jerusalem, and to the rebuilding of their Temple.

Cyrus was to be God’s instrument of salvation.  He used Cyrus to fulfil this purposes.  That heathen king had no idea he was serving the God of Heaven.  A possible modern day equivalent might be Mikhail Gorbachev.  His policies of ‘perestroika’ and ‘glasnost’ brought about the liberation of many nationalities and races within the borders of the old USSR.  They became free to return to their own countries.

God is not merely working through ‘Christians’ but has the world at his disposal.  He will achieve his purposes whether people acknowledge him or not.  God achieves so much through the people he has made, quite apart from the people he has saved.  Let us give thanks that he has the whole world in his hands.  Cyrus, strange as it might seems, is a type (example) of the Christ who was to come in the form of Jesus.  He would set all people free in the deepest and most fulfilling ways.

Thank you Lord for your mighty power.  You are indeed King of king and Lord of lords.  Thank you that nothing is outside your control.  You can handle all things; may I trust you.  Amen. 

Explore More

1 What was happening the night before Cyrus conquered Babylon?

Daniel 5:1-6, 24-30

2  Consider ‘King of kings’ in the New Testament

1 Tim 6:15, Rev 17:14, 19:15-16

Come to Us Over Christmas

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Service of Lessons and Carols – Sunday 21st December at 6:30 pm

Our Service of Lessons and Carols is a  special time in our church calendar. The choir and choristers have been rehearsing for a long time to sing, and help us sing, beautiful carols and Christmas hymns. We are very grateful to Brian Cresswell who has returned to cover Miles’ sabbatical. Brian has chosen a wide selection of worshipful music for us to enjoy. This year, the lesson readers will bring up a symbol to represent the passage of the Bible that they are reading. Each symbol will be placed under or beside the nave altar to form a tableau. Do stay for mince pies and mulled wine after the service.

Nativity Service – Christmas Eve at 4:00 pm

Young children, families, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles – in fact everyone – is welcome to the Nativity Service at 4.00pm on Christmas Eve. This service is so colourful with the children dressing in nativity costumes and it has become very popular.

Midnight Communion – Christmas Eve at 11:30 pm

Later on, at 11.30pm, we have the First Communion of Christmas. It is a special treat to walk through our amazing angel doors and greet each other with “Happy Christmas” during The Peace. Why not invite your friends and neighbours to our services over Christmas?

Holy Communion – Christmas Day at 8:00 & 10:00 am

After the beauty of a traditional Prayer Book Service at 8.00am on Christmas morning, we will enjoy a relaxed Church Family Communion with a short message and carols.

Afterwards the church will close until 2nd January except for Sunday 28th December when there will be three services as usual. During the time the church is closed, the coffee shop carpet will be cleaned and there will be a stocktake in the bookshop.

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Business Carol Service

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The Business Carol Service organised by Taunton Team Chaplaincy and held at St James Church on Tuesday evening, was a wonderful occasion. The manager of Sainsbury’s spoke movingly about the difference having a chaplain makes to the working of the store. The Revd Keith Powell gave a challenging message and is speaking at a follow up event at Miles (Riverside) in January. All are welcome, particularly if you would like to hear Keith speak about finding a personal faith.

whychristmas?com

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www.whychristmas.com is one of the largest Christmas information sites on the web and answers your Christmas questions! It was launched in November 2000 by James Cooper, a Christmas loving web designer from the U.K.  He says, “I’d always loved Christmas (yes, I’m a very big kid!) and had wondered about the ‘whys’ of Christmas; such as why do we have Santa/Father Christmas, why we have Christmas Trees and send Christmas Cards to each other?!”

So far we’ve found out what Chrismons are, sang some Christmas Karaoke, decorated our own Christmas tree and even completed a memory puzzle!

Why don’t you see what James has created and have some fun too at WhyChristmas?com.