Charles writes: December 2012/January 2013

This month, a new church year begins, on Advent Sunday, 2nd December. Then, as we celebrate Christmas, we begin again the journey through the life of Jesus, from his birth through to the Cross and Resurrection, at Holy Week and Easter. And of course, a few days after Christmas, we celebrate a new calendar year…

This will be a year of many changes. In particular, we hope this coming year will be the year when we see our plans for the Barber Rooms become a reality – when we see the actual building going up.

What else will this coming year be like for us as a church?

We have decided on a simple one word theme for this coming year – “REFRESH”. What does that mean? In brief, it means that rather than trying to start new things, we would like to REFRESH the things we already do. We’re not after changing things for the sake of it – rather about allowing ourselves the freedom to look at what we’re doing in fresh ways, and to be creative and imaginative about the things we do.

2013 is also the year when we are required to renew our Electoral Roll (our church membership roll). In Spring 2013, everyone will come off the Electoral Roll, and everyone has to join afresh. This is a good opportunity for us all to look afresh at what church membership means to us all. There will be more on this in February and March.

As the year goes on, there will be other areas of our church life we’ll be focussing on, looking at where we can refresh what we do together.

To undergird all this, we have felt it will be good to go back to our roots in our preaching and our worship in the coming few months. For a Christian church, that means focussing again on the life and teaching of Jesus. So this month we are beginning a new sermon series, based on the Gospel of Luke. We will begin on Sunday 9th December with John the Baptist, and will continue the story right through to Easter. During my ten years here, we have never focussed on Luke’s Gospel before – it has a great deal to teach us, and I am very excited about the opportunity it gives us to encounter Jesus afresh.

Finally, of course we all need refreshing ourselves, in our lives and in our faith. I hope Christmas will be a time for all of us to have some time off to be refreshed, and to encounter afresh the wonderful message of Immanuel – God with us – God coming to us in the birth of Jesus. In the new year, on Sunday 9th January , as we remember the Holy Spirit coming down like a dove on Jesus at his Baptism, we will be having another Service of Communion with Laying on of hands, when we invite everyone to stay for a moment at the Communion rail for a short prayer for the refreshing life of the Holy Spirit. So may we find God refreshing each one of us, ready to embrace the challenges the new year will bring.

Jane and I send you all our very warmest wishes for a joyful Christmas and a happy new year.