Bishop Stephen Writes
Do not be afraid
Knife crime, gun crime, immigration, unemployment, genocide, the war on terror, nuclear holocaust, Aids, bird flu, anti-biotic resistant super bugs and now Ebola, it feels as if the world is gripped by one potentially life threatening or ‘civilisation as we know it’ threatening cataclysm after another. And we are understandably filled with fear.
Into this maelstrom of panic and dread is the Christmas season a welcome escape, or an opportunity to get some perspective? Well, there are probably many people who will indeed eat and drink and forget the troubles of the world at Christmas, and good luck to them. But for those of us who look to Bethlehem, not Bluewater, for our centre of gravity at this time of year we encounter a very different story and a very different set of challenges.
So may the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary ring out loud and clear across the globe, and if only they were strung up in brightly flashing neon lights in every High Street: ‘Do not be afraid’. Yes, there are the most terrible horrors engulfing our world, not least the Ebola outbreak and its possible consequence for all of us, and the already devastating toll it has taken on some of the world’s poorest communities. But Mary is told not to be frightened because she is to be the one through whom God’s purposes of love and justice will be made known.
This can also be true for us, who follow Jesus. We can be bearers of his love and his justice, ordering the world differently.
Jesus is born to show us what humanity is supposed to look like and to restore lost community with God. In doing this he reminds us that we are one humanity inhabiting one world, that we are all children of God and that we belong to each other. This should change the way we approach the horrors and challenges of the world. There are some strident, cynical and scaremongering voices around. We should be suspicious of them. This is not the time to pull up the drawbridge. On the contrary it is the time to put extra resources into helping those in need, especially the poor, for our well-being is tied up with theirs.
Finally, Jesus was born into a persecuted people living in an occupied land. In an effort to rid the world of the threat he posed, a despotic puppet of a leader wiped out a whole generation of little boys, and Jesus and his family fled into exile. If we make this story ours, then we too must change the way we treat strangers, the way we confront tyrants and, yes, have an immigration policy that is as much concerned with hospitality for those in need as it is for the feathers in our own nest. The Son of Man had no place to rest his head. He was born in what was the equivalent of a bus shelter at the back of a pub. We cannot claim to follow him and ignore others who share his plight. We cannot confront the brutal terrors going on in Iraq, Syria and other places in the world, and at the same time close our doors to refugees, asylum seekers and displaced and persecuted minority groups.
So free yourself from fear this Christmas. Follow the one who alone offers hope in the midst of the very real challenges we face. Discover that his way of peace - upside down thought it seems to so much of the received wisdom of the world - is actually the way of justice, prosperity and well-being for everyone. It is available, gift wrapped, with lashings of love, free of charge and ready to go at a local church near you. Have an interesting Christmas.
8.00am & 10.00am Mass at St Mary’s Ann is Celebrant and Quintin is Preacher
10.00am Mass at St Bart’s Fred is Celebrant and Rob is Preacher
10.00am Mass at St Edmund’s Chigor is Celebrant & Preacher
Today’s readings: 2 Samuel 7: 1-11,16 Romans 16: 25-27
Readings for Christmas Eve/Christmas Day :
Isaiah 9: 2-7 Titus 2: 11-14
SERVICES 28TH DECEMBER
8.00am & 10.00am Mass at St Mary’s Fred is Celebrant and Preacher
10.00am Mass at St Bart’s Ann is Celebrant and Preacher
10.00am Mass at St Edmund’s Christopher Owens is Celebrant & Preacher
Readings for 28th December:
Jeremiah 31: 15-17 1 Corinthians 1: 26-29
SERVICES 4th JANUARY 2015
8.00am & 10.00am Mass at St Mary’s Quintin is Celebrant and Preacher
10.00am Mass at St Bart’s Rob is Celebrant and Preacher
10.00am Mass at St Edmund’s Christopher Owens is Celebrant & Preacher
Readings for 4th January 2015: Isaiah 60: 1-6 Ephesians 1: 3-14
In Our Prayers: Stephen & Peter our bishops, our clergy & our mission to East Ham;
Prayer for the People of Pakistan
We pray for all those caught up in the terrible violence of the past week;
not least the innocent children who lost their lives. We pray for those who survived; for those who witnessed these terrible sufferings; for the souls of those who died and for their loved ones. And as we prepare to welcome again the Prince of Peace we pray that you may truly deliver us from evil and that the kingdom of your dear son my rule the hearts of people everywhere. Through Christ Our Lord AMEN
Community Groups: East Ham AA Group; Narcotics Anonymous; Newham Community Counselling; Patiko Baker’s Fort Project; Royal British Legion – East Ham Branch. Older People: Golden Oldies; Genesis Housing Association – residents and staff; Lunch Club; Friday Games; Worshipping Communities: who share our buildings; Lay Ministers: Shirley & John; Staff; Brenda, Chrissie, Bill, May, June, Win, Mary, Sue, Jackie & Debbie; Churchwardens: Andrew, Mary, Laurine, John, Hazel, Ajith & Coraline.
The sick and suffering: Clarice, Jean Skelton, Martin Gammon, Les Rowe, Alice Singh , Joyce Deslandes, Janice Wenlock, Ron Heard, Graham Davis, Daniel & Liam Kearney, Ursula, Gladys, Dean Hoadley & Colin Marchant.
Gladys still remains in Tayberry Ward in Newham General while they sort a few issues out. She would always love to have visitors.
Those who have died: Lennie Jean-Baptiste, Mike Long, Joe Brown, Nicholas Widgery & Sarah Thorogood.
May they rest in peace and rise in glory
The Clergy would like to thank everyone for all the
card & gifts they have received and would like to wish everyone
in the Parish a very Happy Christmas and New Year.
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AND ANOTHER FRONT! PAGE
New Year A bit of resolution!
We make them but it's often hard to keep them. We think of all those things which we would like to change or improve and we resolve to do our best at New Year.
But it's rarely easy and often difficult. There's so many things.....health and exercise, diet, work/life balance......a whole host of things.
But there is also our spiritual lives. And making New Year resolutions about our faith is perhaps the most difficult kind of promise of all!
But there are a few areas we might focus in on:
Our bible reading: in the New Year, how can we make a concerted effort to read the bible more?
Belonging: is there a church group or activity which we might well get involved in but we've always avoided taking the plunge?
Prayer life: that time each day when we are still or reflect, or meditate. When is it? Can we use it more effectively?
Stewardship: however it may seem at times, God has given us so much that we might spend a little time reflecting on how we can give me just a little back? Even more?
When the New Year comes we might resolve to do lots of things. But whatever we try to do better and be better in 2015, let's keep our Christian discipleship close to the top of the list.