Jesus lay in a manger
Lit by a single star
And shepherds from the surrounding hill
And the wise men from afar
And the animals from their beds of straw
And the angels from above
Came to pay homage, as we do
To our infant Lord of Love.
Deep Longing for Light
When I think of the season of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, the word which jumps to my mind is: longing. Advent is a season of deep longing. The world is not as it should be. Or could be.
Indeed, this deep longing for a different world was present in the very first Advent. Mary and Joseph were longing for safety and refuge as they travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
The magi/wise men were longing to discover a new king, as they follow the bright star. The shepherds were longing for acceptance in a society that considers them outcasts. Tim O’Brien describes this deeply human trait of longing in his book, The Things They Carried:
“You are filled with a hard, aching love for what the world could be, and always should be, but now is not.”
And just like 2000 years ago, we too, have recently been experiencing deep longing in our own lives:
Longing to stay safe and healthy.
Longing to continue heating our homes.
Longing to connect with family and friends.
Our wider world too, has recently been experiencing deep longing:
Longing for refugees and asylum seekers to be treated with dignity.
Longing for LGBTQI folk to find inclusion and affirmation.
Longing for our earth to be treasured.
And yet in our longing, God will meet us there. In our longing, God is present. A God of faith, hope and love. A God revealed in Jesus.
We talk about Jesus’ coming into the world, as light shining in darkness. The light of Jesus reveals how darkness in our lives and world can be overcome. To quote one of the Gospel writers, John: “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it”.
Christmas is about Jesus Christ entering the longing and darkness of every time and place, including ours, to bring light. A light of faith, hope and love that each and every one of us, can share with our families, our communities, our world.
In the last few weeks, I have been fortunate to witness and experience lights of faith, hope and love, connecting our church with both our local and wider community.
A light of faith in the wonderful discussion during our Partnership Advent course.
A light of hope in the commitment of our church to Rainbow Junktion and the North and West Leeds Foodbank.
A light of love in the encounters and conversations after our services and during our Guild Lunch.
As such, when we experience longing or darkness, in our own lives and world, we can recognise that God is right in the midst of it with us and is providing us with opportunities to be lights of faith, hope and love.
I end with the first verse of one of my favourite hymns from Bernadette Farrell, which we are singing as part of the Advent candle lighting liturgy during our services:
Longing for light, we wait in darkness.
Longing for truth, we turn to you.
Make us your own, your holy people,
light for the world to see.
May the Christmas season be full of peace, love and joy for you and your loved ones.
The ‘Longest Night’ is a gentle, reflective service for anyone who finds this time of year difficult, who misses someone, or who wants to spend some time remembering.
Nicola will be leading the service for the Partnership and you can join the service by clicking on the following link:
|Morning Worship for the Second Sunday of Advent led by Rev Phil Chilvers
|Children’s Christmas Party
|‘Arise & Shine’. Joint Zoom Service with our partner churches in the Palatinate of Germany. Link sent 22/11/22 from Headingley St Columba.
|Morning Worship for the Third Sunday of Advent led by Rev Samantha Sheehan
|Guild Christmas Lunch
|Service of Lessons and Carols
|‘The Longest Night’ a reflective Service on Zoom.
|Service of Celebration for Christmas Day led by our Minister
|Morning Worship led by Rev Phil Chilvers
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have contributed to Church flowers during the year whether by donations, arrangements and/or distribution. It is much appreciated by the congregation.
If you would like to commemorate an anniversary or special day, or to volunteer to contribute in any way, do please have a word with me or add your name to the Flower Calendar in the vestibule.
CHILDREN’S PARTY – a reminder
It has been decided to reinstate the children’s Christmas party this year and this will be held on Sunday 4th December from 3-5pm. If you are free that afternoon please come along and help. If parents stay with the children they do appreciate a friendly chat. Santa will hopefully be paying a visit and I have already started buying presents. Contributions towards the cost of the party would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks in advance.
The texts for our December Notice Board are as follows:-
Advent – Adventure
Christmas – Silent night
Wishing all members and friends of Headingley St Columba a happy and joyful Christmas. I pray that the church will grow in the New Year and in many years to come.
Love from Pauline Hood
Janette and Roger Morley would like to wish everyone at Headingley St Columba URC a very Happy Christmas and a healthy New Year.
It gives me great pleasure to report that during the fund-raising year just over £1100 has been raised for the five charities we support. The cheques will be sent out once the final figure has been confirmed.
As always the team have worked hard to raise the money and my thanks go to them. Grateful thanks are also given to those who have generously donated items to be sold and to those who have purchased the books and other items off the bookcases and stalls. Unsold items are passed on to other charities so that they do get a second chance of helping others.
So on we go . . .
GUILD CHRISTMAS LUNCH
Join us for your first Christmas Lunch of the season on Tuesday, 13th December; Roast Turkey and, we hope, all the trimmings. We shall meet as usual at 12.30pm for lunch at 1 o’clock. The cost is £5. All are welcome; we just need to know you would like to join us.
CHRISTMAS in CADENCE
Christmas sets the centre on the edge;
The edge of town, the outhouse of the inn,
The fringe of empire, far from privilege
And power, on the edge and outer spin
Of turning worlds, a margin of small stars
That edge a galaxy itself light years
From some unguessed at cosmic origin.
Christmas sets the centre at the edge.
And from this day our world is re-aligned
A tiny seed unfolding in the womb
Becomes the source from which we all unfold
And flower into being. We are healed,
The end begins, the tomb becomes a womb,
For now in him all things are re-aligned.
Malcolm Guite is an Anglican priest and poet. He is happy to have his poems reproduced with attribution.