Page last updated - 14 January, 2019
'Twas much, that man was made like God before, But that God should be made like man, much more.
John Donne, "Holy Sonnet 15"
If I was asked what my top ten Bible passages were, somewhere, quite high up the list would come Philippians 2: 5 - 11. It is one of the earliest Christian hymns and I love to hear it read, especially at Christmas and Easter - in fact it links so wonderfully: Incar-nation, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension.
Go on - look it up! Read how God became a human being.
I wonder how Christmas day felt to God? Can you Imagine for a moment becoming a baby again: giving up language and muscle coordination, and the ability to eat solid food and control your bladder. On that day in Bethlehem, the Maker of all that Is took form as a helpless, dependent newborn - how terrifying!
How frightening it must have been for Mary, for Joseph and yes, for God; to make himself weak and vulnerable - and human!!
Yet the gospel record offers two words "Fear Not," over and again. To Elizabeth and Zechariah, to Mary and Joseph and to the shepherds - over and over again, "Fear Not."
We are reminded every year as children dress up in dressing gowns and tea towels and act out the story of Jesus' birth. "Fear Not!" lisps the six year old angel, his bedsheet costume dragging the ground, his coat-hanger-frame wings flapping ever so slightly from the trembling of his body. He sneaks a peep at the script hidden in the folds of his sleeve."Fear not, I bring you good tidings of great joy."
In days gone by, God appearing to men and women had almost always caused fear. Whereas now, God was about to appear in a form that would not frighten - What could be less scary than a newborn baby with jerky limbs and eyes that don't quite focus? In Jesus, born in a barn or cave and laid in a feeding trough, God found at last a mode of approach that humanity need not fear. God took the ultimate risk and spanned the vast chasm of fear that had distanced him from his human creation. but removing that barrier made Jesus vulnerable, terribly vulnerable. God comes to us in such a way, that it is easy to reject him - for he comes with an invitation: no force - no coercion - no bribery or blackmail - simply an invitation. And after all these years the invitation is the same - "Come, follow me!"
We know many have rejected his invitation over the years but for those who accept, life is never the same again.
With God there is always an invitation.
I would like to offer you all three invitations over Christmas, Epiphany and the New Year. The first is to come to Avenue on 12th December at 11.00am to be part of the Christmas story told by adult Refugees and Asylum Seekers.
Then, on the evening of Epiphany, at 6.00pm at Grove Hill, you are invited to the Circuit Welcome Service when we will be welcoming Rev Charity Hamilton and promising to work with her in this Circuit.
On 10th February at Linthorpe Road at 1.00pm we are all invited by the Chinese Church to be with them as they celebrate Chinese New Year. There will be a bring and share tea following the service. We do hope as many people as possible will respond to the invitation as we remember that the Chinese Church is the newest church in our Circuit. Look out for details of a Circuit coach to get us there in style!
May God Bless you all this Christmas and as we enter 2019.
With sincere Love,
Rev. Sue Greenwood
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