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Third Candle of the Advent Wreath

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Shepherd Candle or 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 14th 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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Who is King? – Rehoboam

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 The Reading:  1 Kings 11:41-12:16 

… the king did not hearken to them …” (12:16) RSV

The tragedy of schism is illustrated by the foolish reign of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam.  He had grown up in the glory days of Israel.  His father had been wise and rich.  The country had prospered and had become a power to be reckoned with in that area of the world.  He had had a privileged upbringing and had never had it so good.  But now he wanted to continue bleeding the people dry in order to maintain his privileged status and way of life.  His father had been tough, but at least he had earned the right to be tough.  Rehoboam felt he could be tougher just because of his background – what a disaster!

Rehoboam did not have the wisdom of his father.  And when he sought counsel he rejected the advice of his elders and followed the advice of his peers.  All of those young men wanted power and privilege, but did not realise that their first responsibility was to their people.  God raises leaders and kings not primarily for their own benefit but for the benefit of their citizens.  Rehoboam neglected the duty of any caring leader, he “did not hearken to them …” (1 Kings 12:6).

God cares for people, and his servants, all of us, are to care for people too.  We are not to oppress them, withhold their pay, or in any way be unjust to them.  We are called to follow the example of Jesus who was a shepherd to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  A shepherd is prepared to lay down his life for the sheep.

Rehoboam’s crass and immature repression of his people resulted in a split that was never to be healed.  The ten northern tribes hived off under Jeroboam and became ‘Israel’, and Rehoboam was left with the remaining two, known as ‘Judah’.  Woe betide us if we do not “hearken” to the cries of the poor and needy.

Lord, forgive me when I am arrogant and simply want my own way.  Help me to listen to others, and above all listen to you.  Teach me to be kind and gentle.  Amen. 

Explore More

1  What did Jesus teach about leadership?

     Mark 10:42-45

2   Read more on Jesus the good shepherd.

     John 10:11-15

Business Carol Service

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The Business Carol Service – for all who work in Taunton.  Speakers: Rev Keith Powell and Fran James (HR Manager – Sainsburys) St James Church, Taunton.  Tuesday 16th December 6.15 – 7.15pm.  Followed by festive refreshments.  Organised by Taunton Team Chaplaincy – who serve the Community and Businesses of Taunton  as Town Centre and Workplace Chaplains.  Free Parking from 6.00pm in Coal Orchard and Canon St. Car Parks.  www.tauntonteamchaplaincy.org   Tel: 07581 424420

Come to us for Christmas

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If you delivered the Christmas leaflets – thank you! An increase in volunteers this year made the distribution much easier. However, the best invitation is a personal one. Next Sunday we enjoy a beautiful service of lessons and carols. Are you bringing anyone to church over Christmas?

Church Christmas Hours

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THE CHURCH WILL BE CLOSED 26th December to 1st January opening on Friday 2nd January.

Just to explain that the Church will close after the 10.00am service on Christmas Day and reopen on Friday 2nd of January. There will be three services on Sunday 28th December.

On 4th January we will anticipate and celebrate Epiphany with a Family Communion. The children will make crowns and we will sing “We Three Kings”. Do join us.

Second Candle of the Advent Wreath

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Bethlehem Candle or 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 7th 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)

Who is King? – Solomon

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The Reading:  1 Kings 4:29-5:6 

I purpose to build a house for the name of the Lord my God” (1 Kings 5:5)

Solomon, the son of King David, was known for his wisdom.  He wrote many proverbs and made practical decisions.  There is the well known story of deciding who was the real mother of the baby by threatening to cut it in half; it worked!  (1 Kings 3:16-28)!  Someone who was extremely impressed by his wisdom and wealth was the Queen of Sheba.  But Solomon’s most abiding legacy to Israel was the Temple he built.

 David his father had wanted to build it, but was not the right man to do so – his hands were stained with blood.  But the time and the situation was now right for Solomon to do so.  We may note how times and seasons lie with God.  Our plans have to wait for his timing.  We may not be the right person to do it.  We need to seek what God is actually calling us to do.  As Paul wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Although God now gave Solomon permission and the commission to build the Temple, it still needed Solomon to say “I purpose …” (1 Kings 5:5).  Nothing will get done, whatever vision we have, unless our will transforms our dreams into actions.  As James wrote, “Let us be doers of the word, and not hearers only …” (James 1:22).

Note also Solomon’s motivation.  This Temple was to be built for the glory of God, not to establish his own greatness or to impress his neighbours.  Unless we are filled with a desire to please God and to glorify him, we will never find sufficient motivation to build ‘houses’ for him.  Solomon (in this early part of his life) was a man who spent much time in thought, mediation and prayer.  This is how right motivation and enthusiasm is found.

Forgive me Lord when I have idled away my dreams.  Galvanise my by your Spirit to start today to put into practice your calling(s) to me.  Amen. 

Explore More

1  How long did the Temple take to build?

    1 Kings 6:38

2  Is God’s presence limited to the Temple?

    1 Kings 5:5, 8:27-30

Notice Boards

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The reaction to the new internal notice boards has been very positive. The tower area is looking smarter and tidier and the missing photos are being sourced. Dennis and Susanne, who have done so much to see this project through, are going to monitor what is put up. The external message boards have passed the informal DAC stage with just minor adjustment. Legal faculty notices have gone up in the church to allow for any formal objection. The supporting paper, which shows what the plans are in detail, is available for inspection at the Bookshop.  Just ask. If all goes as planned we should be putting up the message and notice boards early in the New Year.

MU ‘Just a Bite’

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Grateful thanks to Rod who gave us lots of food for thought and reflection during the Advent season. Many thanks to everyone who joined us for the service. The collection of £55.40 which was for the MU Christmas appeal, has been sent to the MU office. The amount of £20:00, raised from Bring & Buy and donations towards refreshments, will go towards local projects. Please don’t forget to renew your
membership for next year. There is no meeting in January and the next meeting on 4th February will be a Wave of Prayer Service. Christmas greetings to all.

Upcoming Events

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Here are some upcoming events in Taunton.

  • Christmas Tree Festival will take place at Taunton United Reformed Church, Paul Street, on Friday 12th to Sunday 14th December. Entry is free. We organise this event principally to give a showcase to several groups and organisations which work tirelessly for the good of others and the enrichment of society; also to offer people a refuge from the busyness of Christmas shopping. We hope you will be dazzled by the trees and by what you learn about our tree sponsors.  (See What’s On for further details.)
  • The Business Carol Service – for all who work in Taunton.  Speakers: Rev Keith Powell and Fran James (HR Manager – Sainsburys) St James Church, Taunton.  Tuesday 16th December 6.15 – 7.15pm.  Followed by festive refreshments.  Organised by Taunton Team Chaplaincy – who serve the Community and Businesses of Taunton  as Town Centre and Workplace Chaplains.  Free Parking from 6.00pm in Coal Orchard and Canon St. Car Parks.  www.tauntonteamchaplaincy.org   Tel: 07581 424420