On the Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon we held our Carol Concerts which will be reported separately. Major Judith Payne led the Sunday morning meeting which is reported here.
Yesterday’s morning meeting was led by Major Judith Payne, assisted by Major Ian F Payne, and focussed on Advent, the Time of Hope. Major Judith introduced the theme saying that she felt there were a lot of people waiting for Christmas – this time of hope. It reminds us that God’s people have had to wait a long time for God’s promise to be fulfilled. God came in Jesus, in an historical moment. There is no denying this as there are records to prove it even if some do not believe he was the son of God. He still comes. When we call, He answers. There are times when we need to hear the whisper of His voice so we need to listen. And He is coming again – this is our hope for the world. No matter how many Christmases we’ve had, His love never changes, it is new every morning.
Our opening song was ‘Hark the glad sound’ (SA Song 107). Then Major Ian introduced Penny and Roger Clay who were chosen to light the advent candles, chose an appropriate song and pray with us. Their chosen song was ‘Lo, he comes with clouds descending’ (SA Song 268) which we sang before Penny and Roger prayed a prayer of thanks and blessing especially upon the work in the community.
We were asked to consider our best Christmas presents throughout our lives and we saw pictures of favourite toy gifts through the decades. Major Judith said that the best gifts cannot be measured in monetary terms but are usually small meaningful treasures. One of her children, when writing to Santa, said she didn’t want to ask him for anything because she trusted him to bring her something she would like. We can trust God to look after us because He has given us His son, Jesus, to be our Saviour. The chorus ‘Thank you, God, for your gift beyond words’ was sung and shared.
Major Ian then had the privilege of presenting Heather Scott with her commission as Recruiting Sergeant to work with Assistant Sergeant Debbie Abbott.
The video of song ‘The greatest story ever told’, beautifully sung, was a reminder of the story of Jesus birth.
Major Ian gave an update on the community work which has been happening this week with over one hundred gift food parcels being transported out. YPSM Tracy Wood, told of the taster club session which had been led at New Road School on Thursday when 19 children attended – more would have come if permission slips had been completed by parents. This had been a successful time when the children had relaxed, joined in games and participated in some personal discussion times. We look forward to the new sessions starting in January.
‘Come, thou long expected Jesus’ (SA Song 104) was sung before Major Judith spoke.
In her message, she said ‘Christmas is about lots of joyful things but we should remember that Christmas was only needed because the world was in such a mess. There’s a dark side to everything, always. NT Wright says it reminds us that the world is a shockingly bad old place but Christmas is God lighting a candle. He is a light which can never be put out. The Christmas story causes fear and unease amongst many people. The angels only needed to say ‘Don’t be afraid’ because people were disturbed and afraid. They came to the shepherds and said ‘Do not be afraid’, the angel came to Zachariah when he was told that his wife who was old was going to conceive a child and told him ‘Don’t be afraid’. The angel came to Mary who must have been very disturbed to know that she was going to conceive a baby and would most likely lose her fiancé. This baby would be the saviour of the world. The angel said ‘Do not be afraid’. The angel came to Joseph to tell him that Mary would have a child and he would have nothing to do with the conception.
Everything was so out of the ordinary but God had it – it was all in His plan and He knew what He was about.
Herod was disturbed but he was the only one who didn’t do what God wanted.
Everyone else was willing to do what God wanted. The presence of darkness (Herod) in the world will always want to fight back. There is something in the culture to-day where people are disturbed by the Christmas story and don’t know they don’t need to be afraid.
We are here. God is saying ‘Don’t be afraid. I’m asking you to say ‘yes’ and bring new life into the High Street. God’s got it. This is his world and you’ll be safe in it. Be willing to light a candle. Be willing to be the light. Don’t be afraid. God has it. The waiting for God is not just for us to wait but God is waiting for a ‘yes’ from us. Let us pray that we will have faith and trust that the promises of God will be fulfilled.
The meeting concluded with the singing of ‘Wonderful counsellor’(SA Song 133) and a benediction prayer.