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Jack and the Beans Talk

A great new blog from our Diocesan Generous Giving Project

THE GENEROUS GIVING PROJECT

Once upon a time there was a poor widow who had an only son named Jack. Jack was a hair stylist and worked at Goldilocks, in Stiltskin’s Retail Park. All they had to live on was Jack’s earnings which didn’t amount to much, and he had quite a bit of credit card debt. Still living with his mother in his twenty-second year wasn’t ideal either, but needs must.

Every Sunday, Jack took his mother to the church on the hill in his Vauxhall Corsa. Each week he winced as she put their contribution on the plate during the service, for they had so little to spare, but he was too afraid to tell his mother. Jack had been reckless with money when he was a boy (something to do with selling a cow) and it had taken years to regain his mother’s trust. His mother was serious about contributing generously…

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Christmas Lights – A Christmas Message from the Vicar

It is normal for our houses to be lit up at Christmas, normal terraces, cul-de-sacs and estates are transformed, you do not have to walk far from the doors of our church to see reindeer in the garden, Santa on the roof large inflatable light up snowmen and lights galore. Rope lights around the door way, strings of light in trees and bushes and with LED technology it is neither expensive or as dangerous as it once was.

Back in 1880 Thomas Edison was responsible for the first ever public electric Christmas light display, while it was just a simple string of fairy lights by todays standards Edison’s display was described by the Manhattan press as “a fairy land of lights.” Two years later he  decorated the first Christmas tree with 80 blinking red, white, and blue electric lights. The tree then spun every 10 seconds, according to a reporter from the Detroit Post and Tribune “the scintillating evergreen was a pretty sight—one can hardly imagine anything prettier … it was a superb exhibition.”

Our streets that are normally dark and quiet at night are lit up with a light that brings so much joy and excitement. It gets me thinking that perhaps that is exactly what we need, perhaps light in the darkness is something we are all searching for. We live in a world where people are bombed out of their own cities and forced to flee from their homes. We live in a world where those we love are taken from us by cruel disease regardless of age. We live in a world full of poverty debt and fear, perhaps a bit of light in that darkness is exactly what we need.

This Christmas we should go to the source of that light, a light that will last beyond next weekend, a light that will shine for all eternity. Where does that light begin? As always light begins in darkness , at Christmas the darkness of a stable in Bethlehem, which seems a very strange place to find a light that will shine for all eternity.

2000 years ago there was plenty of darkness, life was tough. An oppressive Roman Regime made everyone return to their place of birth for the census. Mary with-child travelled through extremes of temperature across hard and unwelcoming terrain. She finally found a smelly animal shed to spend the night in – an old feeding trough in which to lay her precious newborn baby. Jesus was born in abject poverty that first Christmas; not a silent night,  not a night when you could say of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie. Our little lord Jesus, made much crying I am fairly sure, his newborn skin comforted not by a mattress or cushion but with the rough straw of the animal feed.

It did not get any better, a despotic King then spent 2 years trying to hunt Jesus down, murdering every baby boy in the hope that Jesus would not get away. Mary, Joseph and Jesus fled, ran as refuges to Egypt, homeless, destitute. In the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John we see this pattern continued, Jesus owned nothing, he had nowhere to lay his head, he relied on others to meet all of his needs, his friends betrayed him, he was put to death on a cross. But he rose again three days later, the Grave empty.

So at Christmas where does the light come from? The light that will shine for all eternity?

We find it in the darkness, the very place where we find vulnerability and fear we find God.  Where we find  darkness and despair there is God, becuase God has been there before us. In John’s gospel we read “What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.” That is a message of hope, a message of profound hope, especially if you are that pushed out, forgotten or lonely person this Christmas Day.

This Christmas take a look at the lights and see in them the light of life, the light of the world, the light of Christ.

Have  a wonderful Christmas – but dare to take glimpse through the lights for there you will find hope shining brightly in the darkness.

 

David, The Vicar of Silksworth

Remembering at Advent

It has been our tradition at St Matthew’s and St Wilfrid’s over the last few years to hold a memorial service on Advent Sunday evening as a special way to remember those we love but see no longer as Christmas approaches.

Tonight many from both congregations and the local community gathered at St Matthew’s Church was we prated, reflected, sung advent carols and placed names on our memorial tree. The tree stands in our lady chapel which is a place of prayer, and the tree itself is a prayer.

In the letter to Hebrews Chapter 12:1-2a we read “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

As we gather over the coming weeks to celebrate all that the coming of Jesus means with both young and old those names will be present, the tree itself will remain until Epiphany Sunday on January 8th.

If you were unable to come tonight but would love to have added names to the tree please do not worry, you are welcome to attend any of our regular or Christmas series and add names over the coming weeks.

The Reverend David Tolhurst, Vicar of Silksworth

Sunday 27th November 2016

 

100 Shoe Boxes leave Silksworth to travel the world!

This week 100 carefully packed shoe boxes left St Matthew’s Church to travel the world. For some years St Matthew’s have supported Operation Christmas Child and this year through the generosity of folk at St Matthew’s,  in the wider community and our friends from New Silksworth Methodist Church we were able to send 100 shoe boxes in order to change Christmas for 100 children.

Operation Christmas Child provides support in many areas of the world and is a wonderful opportunity to share the message of Christmas with those in need. For all of you who helped, thank you – your generosity will be a blessing to others.

Thank you all.