Soul Food - 18th December
Happy Christmas to all my friends who read this email, whether in my new location in East Devon, Newcastle, County Durham, West Yorkshire, Romania, Bulgaria, USA, Canada, Nigeria and many other places. I hope things I say from time to time you may find useful and it brings a lump to my throat that I have been able to impact a few lives (hopefully for the better) in such diverse locations. Obviously next Wednesday is Christmas day so this is the last one before Christmas and I look forward to continuing our conversation in 2020.
The Exeter University chapel choir gave a barnstorming performance at All Saints East Budleigh on Friday evening enjoyed by about 190 people and on Sunday afternoon I presided at the carol service at St. Michael’s Otterton. Louise sang the first verse of “Once in Royal David’s city”, something she will reprise at All Saints on Christmas Eve, and we were treated to an up-tempo rendition of “Deck the Halls” led on double bass, guitar and electric piano – so good it deserved an encore. I was at St. Peter’s for the morning services and the given theme was St. John the Baptist so I preached on him. If you’d like to read what I said just click here; https://revmartinjacques.blogspot.com/2019/12/john-baptist.html
Sunday 22nd – Advent 4
I am in East Budleigh and Otterton in the morning and presiding at the carol service at St. Peter’s in the evening. Karen will be in St. Peter’s in the morning. The candle on the Advent wreath today celebrates the role of Mary, Jesus’ mother.
Isaiah 7: 10-16. Important to stress here that it is the name of the child, Emmanuel (God with us) that is significant to Isaiah rather than the manner of his conception and birth. Note that the prophecy cites simply a “young woman” in the sense that the birth of a child is a sign of hope and the continuing presence of God in any human life in any time or place. Also note that this is primarily meant as a sign for King Ahaz in the 8th century BC, though this doesn’t limit the relevance of that promise to then or being used 800 years later when applied to the birth of Jesus.
Romans 1: 1-7. Paul asserts Jesus’ humanity – “descended from David according to the flesh” and his divinity “by resurrection from the dead” according to the Spirit. This has led to countless discussions as to when Jesus became the Christ. At his resurrection according to Paul here, at his birth according to Matthew and Luke, at his baptism according to Mark, at creation according to John. The scriptures are rich and varied, and Paul pulls us back to the gospel revelation of repentance and salvation for all as being the central most important point rather than falling out over things which divide and are of limited importance. The reality of “Emmanuel”- God with us, is more important than when, whatever our doctrinal differences
Matthew 1: 18-25. In the conception and naming of Emmanuel, Matthew affirms the full humanity of Jesus (Mary is his real flesh and blood mother) and his divinity (Mary bears a child because of divine intervention). Here too the name of Jesus is all important. Jesus means “God saves” and this point is spelled out in verse 21. Jesus is a new and decisive intervention of God in the affairs of mankind and his very name spells out what this purpose is. The presence of God with his people is the bread that wraps the gospel. Matthew’s gospel starts with Emmanuel – God is with us and ends in Matthew 28 with “Remember I am with you to the end of the age”. Jesus is the presence of God in the affairs of the world.
The final table talk that investigated some spiritual, legal and practical aspects surrounding decline and death was informative and appreciated. I for one learned at lot about the legal implications. Lasting power of attorney is quite an essential thing which we have been convinced that we should have. We plan another short session in 2020.
The Lighter side!
Thought for the day
Well the election is over and congratulations are due to everyone who put their name forward for election whether they were successful or not.
I can’t think of a more brutal or public way of putting yourself on the line. Your ideas, politics and history are all fair game to friend and foe alike and in the current climate personal abuse is rampant.
Whatever your politics and however you voted and whatever your reaction to the result, I think we need to start treating each other as human beings first and not just as a set of political dogmas held together by flesh and bone.
We must also be thankful that we live in a democracy where however rich or poor you are, and whatever race or gender, we all just have one vote and they all count equally. That idea is extraordinary and must be defended at all costs.
The Prayer for today is by Robert Louis Stevenson
Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift
and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing
which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning
make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds
with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven,
for Jesus’ sake.
Love and peace,