Miranda’s December Reflection
On Christmas Eve hundreds, probably thousands, of us will gather in The Square to sing carols, and to hear the Christmas story. It is an amazing event, and one I feel privileged to be a part of. I love to see the great crowd of people gathering together – it is a wonderful sight.
What is it, though, that draws that great crowd, what prompts you to come down to The Square on a dark winter’s evening, when there is so much still to do in preparation for Christmas Day? Is it perhaps because there is something important and affirming about shared experiences? I think so, and I think it is because we are created for relationship – we need to share things with others. Yes, it’s vital to live our own lives, to have our own personal perspective, and not just see the world through the eyes of others. And yet what a wonderfully deeper and richer experience we have when we share experiences with others!
And what is Christmas about, if it is not about sharing? In Jesus, God has shared in the experience of our human lives, that we might share in his life eternally. It’s a story of love –love that is unfailingly shared. In Jesus, God took the initiative, and stepped into the world and invites us to step into his – to share in the Kingdom Jesus initiated through his birth in Bethlehem.
So do share in the joy of Christmas – remember particularly those who will be on their own, or lonely. Share your experiences with them, that they may know they are loved. It is through us that God makes his love known – and we experience his love for us in our love for others.
We are loved without limit, so as we celebrate the coming season of joy and peace, may love rule our hearts and direct our lives now and always.
Have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year!
Miranda’s November Reflection
In November, there is no escaping the fact that days are getting shorter and shorter and nights longer and longer – winter approaches, and we turn up the heating and/or put on more layers of clothing. Here, in the Northern Hemisphere, the world is a darker place.
Throughout recent times, though, the darkness of the world has taken on a more permanent presence – the violence, oppression and unrest we see around us shows little seasonal variation, despite the hope of an Arab Spring. So how do we, as Christians, respond to the fear and conflict that exists? What can we, as individuals, do? How can we possibly make a difference?
Well, the answer to the last question is the easiest: we make a difference whether we like it or not. As I’ve said before, none of us takes leave of this world without having made a difference of some kind. No one’s life passes unnoticed. No, I don’t mean just by God, although that is the case; no, I mean that everyone’s life has an impact on others – it is impossible to separate us entirely, one from another.
So, if we know that we do make a difference, the challenge to each of us is what sort of difference that will be; and in our response to that challenge we find the answers to all our questions.
Will we step out into the darkness in faith, or draw back in fear? Will we see in the utter darkness and desolation of Christ’s death on the cross, the promise of new light and life – a new dawn? Will we perceive that, just as the darkness of winter conceals the new life of spring, so the darkness of violence, fear and death conceals the new light and life of the world? Can we hope that new light and life, even now, can take shape within us?
There is something subversive about Spring, about the way in which its new life is hidden in Winter’s deathly grip, waiting for the moment to leap forth – the very ground unaware of what is to come. Faith is sometimes a bit like that, buried within us, seemingly forgotten, yet waiting to unfurl with new life. Is your faith waiting in the darkness of winter? If it is, then pray for Spring, and welcome the new light and life it brings.
For then we will welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, house the homeless, love the enemy – we, too, will be heralds of a new world where Christ is King, and all creation sings a new song of justice and peace.
Greg’s Reflection – October 2017
As I write this reflection I am conscious that I am leaving All Saints Church and my visits to Earls Barton will then become few and far between. I have been Curate here for just over two years and though only a short time, it has been an important and formative part of my faith journey and I am grateful to all those who have been a part of this.
I will be sad to leave, but the nature of ordained ministry is that we seek to further the Kingdom of God in every generation and in every place, and so my moving away is a chance to refresh and renew. Others will grow and develop in the space I have left, individuals with energy and enthusiasm, faith and ideas, just as I seek to bring these qualities to a new parish in Northampton.
So my first thought is to pray for and encourage everyone involved with God’s work in the village, at All Saints and indeed in the other churches here. In coming together regularly to witness to our faith in the same Lord and Saviour, I have been particularly struck by the extent of ecumenical support and cooperation and I pray that this continues to flourish.
My second thought is for the village and its people. A village is different from a town, it has a sense of community and identity that is distinct but always developing. The provision of new housing brings change and challenge to that community. So our understanding of ‘who is my neighbour?’ will similarly need to expand and embrace all those who make this place their home.
Before coming here I knew Earls Barton as a place to visit, for its historic church and for the Carols in the Square. Yet it has to be so much more than that for the people living here and especially newcomers. It is all too easy to restrict our circle of friends and acquaintances but we all have to make an effort to reach out to others, and especially so in a village.
So I hope and pray that everyone here can be made to feel as welcome and loved as I have been and that this village, with its iconic church at its physical and spiritual heart, will continue to demonstrate all that is best about community.
Miranda’s September Reflection
As I write this, I’m wearing a thick fleece, the rain is pouring down, and there’s no immediate hope of any change! Nevertheless, despite the weather, there will have been a different rhythm to August for many of you: fewer fixed timings, more relaxed routines, perhaps some time away, or visits to friends and family. Now, in September, schools will go back, clubs resume, the old rhythms will be picked up, and life will get back to normal………………………
If we take a step back, though, we can see that breaks in our routine are part of a wider pattern: one that gives shape to our year. At one time, when we were much more closely intertwined with the agricultural year, schools broke up to enable the young to help bring in the harvest. We would have been only too aware of the impact of the weather on how much we would have to eat in the coming months. Nowadays, in this wealthy country, we take plentiful food for granted; forget that for many the weather continues to have a huge impact on its availability; and, as we know, weather is becoming increasingly unpredictable – as I look at the rain, others are suffering from dangerously hot weather in Italy and the Balkans.
Certainly, the climate is changing and, whatever we believe about the causes, these changes are real and the consequences ever more obvious. Around the world we are seeing an escalating frequency of extreme weather, with devastating consequences for huge numbers of people. As we are quite rightly told, we have a responsibility to future generations and our behaviour undoubtedly has an impact on the climate.
It would be entirely wrong, though, to only think about the future: we have a responsibility to this generation, too. There are millions across the world who are starving today – perhaps because of climate change, perhaps because of human greed, violent struggles for power, or any combination of these.
On 28th September, at 10am, we hold our All-Age Harvest Festival Service, and this will be an opportunity to give thanks for all that we enjoy, but also an opportunity to commit ourselves to a just world, where all share equally in the bounty of the earth, all respect creation, and all work together for the benefit of this and future generations.
Meet for Brunch 1st October
What about coming along to the Parish Hall on the 1st October, some time between 11am and 12.30pm? Everyone is welcome, and you’ll enjoy it – who wouldn’t when there are bacon rolls!
It’ll be an informal opportunity for all ages to meet with friends over Brunch (including those bacon rolls and vegetarian options), to relax, chat, and maybe discuss a current issue if you want to – not to put anyone straight, but to share thoughts, knowledge, experience. There’s no pressure, no wrong question, almost certainly no one right answer, either!
It seems to me to be vitally important that we listen to the views and opinions of others, to be willing to develop our understanding, to share insights and wisdom. It can be all too easy to have a view on a subject, and stop thinking, be content that we know what’s right and what’s wrong. In reality, though, it’s difficult to have a true picture of an issue if we only hear our own voice, and the voices of those who agree with us.
We’ve had some really good conversations about social media, family, and relationships over recent months, and our understandings and knowledge has been developed and expanded.
Of course, you don’t have to join in with any of that if you don’t want to – just come along, enjoy the food, the company, and the space and time to relax. Everyone of any age is welcome – children can sit with parents and carers, run about, or join in with their own activities.
Keep an eye open, too, for news of an Alpha course taking place this autumn – a great way to explore and/or re-discover your relationship with God.