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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Christmas is on its way!

We started heading towards Christmas a couple of weeks ago - with two well attended Advent services (Stickland and Clenston) to prepare the way. This week we have had the start of Milton Abbas' Christmas tree festival - the family carol service had a very enjoyable version of the Twelve days of Christmas performed by the Drama group ( Look out for a giraffe if you are visiting!).
Whitechurch had a very festive carol service with the Scouts and Cubs performing 'Away in a Manger' with real confidence. The church looked wonderful by candlelight and scented with the beautiful flowers from Chris and Sarah-Jayne's wedding the day before.

On Monday morning Dunbury Academy, (Whitechurch base) squeezed into St Mary's Stickland, to sing carols to all the Coffee Potters and give a Christmas card to all who were there.

There is still lots more to enjoy in the benefice before we reach the big day - do check out all that is happening. There's nothing better than celebrating with others and raising the church roofs with our voices!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Top Ten Ways Churches Drive Away First-time Guests

Top Ten Ways Churches Drive Away First-time Guests

This is certainly worth a read! (Click on the link to read more.)We want to see our churches grow but are we really doing everything we can to welcome people? It's so easy to stop seeing 'our' church with fresh eyes because it feels so very comfortable. This comfort could be mistaken for complacency and we could be, in fact, shutting our church doors to others.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Bishop's Thought

Bishop's Thought

Bishop of Sherborne
Bishop of Sherborne

By Dr Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne

Deep conversations sometimes happen in unusual circumstances. Over drinks recently, a lawyer asked me quietly about innocent suffering. How can a God of love and power allow it?
I said that there is no satisfying answer this side of heaven, but that there are hints and signposts in the celebrations of Christmas and Easter. By now we were moving through to dinner and there was little time to elaborate.
I mentioned that a lot depends on our view of God.
If we see him as sitting on the edge of the universe, peering down on us and twiddling his thumbs, then there is little hope of hints and signposts. But if we allow the heart of Christmas and Easter to shape our view of God, then things change perspective. He was intrigued.
Over coffee, we continued. At Christmas, Christians believe that God became a vulnerable baby. He was nearly killed by Herod’s troops, but escaped to Egypt.
Our view of God should encompass God himself becoming vulnerable to innocent suffering.
Some say: ‘If God made the world with all this suffering, then he should clear it up and pay for it.’ In reply, we may only point towards the cross: ‘We believe that indeed is the heart of Good Friday.’
It is the linking of the messages of Christmas and Easter which opens up imaginations. Who was it who was born and died? One baby among many? One man among many?
If Jesus was - and indeed is - God as a real human being, then God himself has experienced innocent suffering. We discussed these ideas and agreed to meet again.
May God expand our imaginations this Advent and Christmastide.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Advent -take time, slow down, open up

Pews News 7th December
Dear Reader,

This time of year is known in the Christian church as ‘Advent’. Advent is derived from the Latin word "Adventus" which means "arrival". . I wonder what Advent means to you? Is it the countdown for getting everything ready for Christmas Day? The list seems to on and on: the turkey, the cards, the pudding, the cake, the presents...!  

Or is Advent about something else? I am drawn to thinking about it as a period of time where we can look for the small but perceptible presence of God in our lives - and in the world. If we don't do that, then what is Christmas all about? It will be about that list of things - and when Christmas Day is over, we will be clearing away the debris and being glad that it is all finished for another year - and nothing else will have changed either.

Christmas isn't supposed to be like that. For Christmas to be different, we have to do Advent differently. Advent draws us to the present moment, to a still, yet active commitment to the life we live now. At Christmas we celebrate the birth of a vulnerable baby who depended totally on others for his survival. Are you prepared to depend on Him in your life?