30 Northumberland Square | North Shields | NE30 1PW Weekly Update #183 17th December 2023
Greetings everyone, from John.
Last time I wrote to you I was in anticipation of an extension of a truce in Israel/Gaza, sadly it did not happen. Not only that but it seems to have taken on more strength and destruction, it sounds as if chaos reigns in this land once known by Jesus. Chaos reigns in many places in this world at present, we remember the Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, of course but there are other places not quite so high in publicity but a list too long to give in this short note. Everywhere there is conflict lives are being lost, civilians are in fear and society is disrupted. Justice and harmony are forgotten and the Good News of the Bible is pushed away. Strangely, often it is the ‘Interpretation of Faith’ which causes wars, and we in England are no exception to this over the centuries. As we are able, we directly support those we are can, but there are many we cannot do more than support Aid agencies and prayer. Some say we should not include this candle this year because of the strife in that area, but surely it is even more important that we do, for they all need our prayers at this time; and so, we come to the advent candle. This week (“The Bethlehem Candle”), it is purple and represents peace. Peace is a central theme of the Advent season but the main focus of this week of Advent. One of the prophecies about Jesus calls him “the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6-7). When the angels appeared to the shepherds, they ended their message by saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests” (Luke 2:14). When Simeon saw baby Jesus in the temple, he thanked God that he could now die in peace for he had seen the Messiah (Luke 2:29-33).
May I wish you all a very peaceful Christmas and we pray for peace in 2024.
PrayerFather, prepare our hearts to celebrate your birth joyfully! We thank you for faithfully doing what you promised long ago when you sent your Son to earth so that we might have the chance to become part of your family. Let the promise of your second coming inspire us to live with hope and purpose. As we wait for your plan to unfold, give us the patience we need. Remind us of the peace we can access when we take time to still ourselves before you and remember that you are God. We thank you that you are both sovereign and gracious. Help us to find rest in the midst of what feels like chaos in our world.
Worship SUNDAY 17th December 2023
10.30 a.m. Our Nativity Sunday. The story of the birth of Jesus retold, with opportunities for participation by all people of all ages.
Livestreamed Worship from Saint Columba’s
To watch the morning service live, catch up with it later in the week, or view previous services, click here.
Bible readings for this week Isaiah 61: 1-4, 8-11. The good news to the poor, Faithful God will make you a special, blest, people.
St. Luke 1: 47-55. Mary’s song of wonder and praise to the Mighty God of power and mercy.
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-24. Be faithful to God as he is faithful to you, be joyful, pray and give thanks.
St. John 1: 6-8, 19-28. ‘There’s this man!’ ’Who do you think you are?’ ‘It’s not me, it’s the other chap!’
Reflection on the Readings
The Book of Isaiah is quite a wonderful book to read. It is full of prophecies, conversations with God, promises and good news from God for His people, but also includes words of rebuke, reprimand and love. In this passage, God is promising His people, through Isaiah, freedom, healing, comfort, beauty, vengeance, gladness and praise. Their lands and cities will be restored after their long years in another land. The Lord loves justice and hates robbery and iniquity. He will make a new covenant with them and they will again be blessed. It was many years after Isaiah when Mary had this amazing experience with the angel and discovered that the God of Israel, who had been silent for so long, was doing an incredible act through her, a humble young girl. All she has been taught about this God comes to mind in an outpouring of praise for the wonders and faithfulness of Jehovah. This praise continues in Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica (v16)” Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” and in (v24)
“The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it”. St. John wrote about John the Baptist’s work and then relates how the ‘Church’ officials of the day tried to determine who he was and his mission, it was new and strange to them. John was preparing the way for Jesus by sharing God’s mercy through repentance, ‘making straight the way of the Lord’.
The Christmas story is a strange one, hardly credible to many, but welcomed by many who hear it.
We have probably heard it several times each year and we still wonder at it but believe it. Knowing our faithful God, let us share and proclaim it again as much as we can, with others who don’t know the story.
A hymn to share with you
Look to the skies, there’s a celebration; by Graham Kendrick
7.15 p.m. at St Columba’s, North Shields.
They are being led by Trevor Jamison and Louise Sanders on the theme, “Forgiving and Forgetting”. This week we look at ‘A Time for Forgetting’ – forgetting our fears, forgetting what’s been, and forgetting what is.
‘The Christmas Post Box’ is in the hall and cards should be collected on 17th December.
Next Update – Sunday 24th December. Trevor will edit the next Update. To get your information in for that date please have it with him by Tuesday 19th December.
Keeping in Touch
You can contact your Elder, the Minister, or Church Secretary.