Pastoral Letter 4th Sunday in Advent

´╗┐PASTORAL LETTER: ADVENT 4

 

 

I wonder how good you are at wrapping Christmas presents. Some people wrap presents so tightly that it’s difficult to get inside, whereas with others the wrapping paper is almost falling off. There is definitely an art in wrapping gifts. If you want to see gift wrapping at its best, then go to one of the perfume counters at Boots and watch them do it although it might cost you an arm and a leg in expensive scent. I have a friend who takes several hours to unwrap half a dozen presents because he likes to feel each one in turn before he opens it in order to make the moment of revelation last! It may be great for him, but it doesn’t do much for the spectators! And so, I ask you this question: “what is the gift that cannot be wrapped, felt, or weighed but is one of the most precious things on earth?” It sounds like one of those questions that you find in a Christmas Cracker. You might think that the answer is “Love” and, in a sense, you’re right but that’s not the answer I’m looking for. I’ll reveal the answer at the end of this letter and so, if you can wait, you will find out. There, I’ve gone and given you a clue! 

This week, as we light the fourth of our Advent Candles, we remember the Three Wise Men and the gifts they brought to the baby Jesus. We don’t know exactly where they came from but the fact that they “journeyed from the East” suggests that it was a long way away. It must have taken them quite a while to get everything prepared: getting their animals ready, acquiring their provisions for the journey, studying the stars to make sure that they were following the right one, and, last but not least, obtaining the gold, frankincense and myrrh that they would give Him as an offering. I don’t know how presents were given in those days but maybe they were gift wrapped as well! And then, on top of all this, there was the journey itself which could have taken several weeks or even months. It sometimes takes a long time to find The Son of God and it’s not necessarily an easy journey. There are lots of twists and turns along the way including getting lost and finding yourself in alien and dangerous territory. Even the Wise Men were not wise enough to avoid danger, as they discovered when they arrived at the court of King Herod. But they kept going and time ticked by as they eventually entered the stable. Time waits for no man or woman, even Wise Men. 

For a long time now we’ve all been very conscious of time itself. We may not have our full and accustomed freedoms, not even the freedom to meet each other, share fellowship or give each other a hug, but we do have time. But time to do what? Time to wait, certainly, but is this all we have time for? I don’t think so because time is too precious to be wasted. Yes, you’ve guessed it! The answer to the question in paragraph one is TIME. Time is the gift that cannot be wrapped, felt or weighed but it is one of the most precious gifts in all the earth: indeed, more than this, one of the most precious things in all eternity when time itself, in terms of days, hours and minutes, no longer has any meaning as we are eternally embraced in the arms of God’s Love. 

So, if your initial answer to the question was LOVE then you are right because TIME & LOVE go hand in hand. 

The Wise Men loved God sufficiently to make room for Him in their lives and to set time aside in order to follow a star, find Jesus and bow down and worship Him. Their time became part of their gift. We thank God today for all the nurses, doctors, and all key workers in many different branches of society that have given their time and energies in order to keep us safe and provided for. People of many different backgrounds and races: people of many different faiths or none: because without them, every one of them, we would not be surviving as we are. They have given their time and in giving their time they have given their love and in loving others they have, even unwittingly, loved God. But it’s not just key workers but every one of us who seeks to care and support others in millions of different ways. Every time you seek to encourage: every time to get something for someone: every time you give someone a long-distance hug: every time to pick up the phone and ask how someone is managing: every time you pray for someone! all these things, and thousands more, involve you in the giving of your time and therefore in expressing your love both for others and for God. 

You can’t wrap it, physically feel it, or weigh it: BUT IT MATTERS. Your time and the love that inspires it, is the greatest of all gifts and in offering it to one another you’re also offering it to God. It won’t win you any medals and it won’t make the headlines: few people, if any, will know what you do and yet God will know and also the person who receives your love: and that’s all that matters. The need for such love is always great but especially in times of crisis such as the one we’re in at the moment. Please remember, this time of difficulty in our national and personal lives will pass and there will be sunny and better days ahead. Time itself will one day pass but LOVE WILL LAST FOREVER. So, let’s spend our time on earth both wisely and lovingly for although it can’t be weighed, time can be counted, and God knows what each second of your life has contained. 

There is more benefit in one minute of love and loving service than in a million years of bitterness. Amen.

 

I shall be writing another Pastoral Letter on Christmas Eve which will then be sent out to you. The next Pastoral Letter after this will be included in the Communion Service notes for Sunday 3rd January. It is regrettable, of course, that we have had to cancel our Christmas Services but, with the spread of the virus appearing to spread more rapidly and given the cold conditions at The Mission with windows and doors having to be kept open, I feel that it is the right decision. We have been greatly blessed at The Mission in that none of our members have so far come down with the virus and it would be so regrettable and sad to see this jeopardised in any way. We thank The Lord for His blessings and protection and pray that this will continue until that wonderful day arrives (and it will arrive) when we can all rejoice and give thanks together. May God bless you all in these few days leading up to Christmas……. from Peter. 

 

PRAYER FOR 4th SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Heavenly Father, today, we light the 4th Advent Candle, we remember and give thanks for the Wise Men who left the comfort and security of their homes to journey out into the unknown to follow a star that led them to Jesus. We recognise the true value of the gifts they offered and recognise, with gratitude and thanksgiving, the contribution that so many have made and continue to make in order to ensure our safety, security and provision during this time of Corona Virus. Father, we pray that you will give them your strength and protection in their service for in providing for others they are also offering their gifts to you. Thank you that You took the time to come to this earth in Your Son Jesus and may we also use and dedicate our time in loving service to others and thereby worship You. In the name of Jesus we pray: Amen.

 

 

 
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