This week has been a shaky one with the huge earthquake and multiple aftershocks, and I hope you and your families have managed to cope with any outward as well as inward turmoil. Although these are ranked as history-making, we could all do without such disruptive events. Please pray for those most affected, always be sure to check on any elderly neighbours or others who have no immediate family, and keep the right emergency supplies close at hand.
For many of my younger years, I had a curious and absorbing hobby, wheeling and dealing in—as well as collecting—antique weapons. Accumulated muzzle-loading muskets and pistols, bits of armour, swords, spears, and daggers were always around the house. Some of the most exciting moments came when discoveries of intriguing items were made in unexpected places. My fascination had little to do with their intended purpose. (My only aggressive sword-wielding at that time was fencing épée for my University College!) I was captivated by the skill and quite extraordinary craftsmanship that went into forging and creating them. Despite their practical function, many were works of art and consequently were displayed around the walls. My particular interest was in two-edged swords. In recalling this, my thoughts have turned to Revelation 2: 12, about Christ being the one who has the two-edged sword. The implication is that the power of Christ is greater than any worldly power. However, this may not seem obvious when we consider that worldly powers brought Jesus to the Cross, or when we note that down the centuries worldly powers have been prepared—if it suited their purposes—to ignore Christianity and even cause harm to those who follow Christ. So where do we locate the power of Christ, as it is clearly different from the various manifestations of what can be described as worldly power? S. Paul (see 1 Corinthians 1: 18–29) declares that the Cross is where we encounter the power of God. This is where we meet fully and unmistakably the power of redemptive love. ‘The only omnipotence known to God is the Almighty Power of suffering love’ (C.E. Rolt). Jesus’ ‘unconditional acceptance of all and sundry is the ultimate power. His patient suffering, non-assertive love will have the last word… If God was in Christ we have to come to terms with a God to whom it is natural to be humble, frustrated and at risk. The coming of Jesus was a prodigious revelation that turned the previous ideas of God and of authority on their head.’ (John V.Taylor).
Today, we have reached the final Sunday of the Church’s Year, and our sights are naturally focusing on Christmas; however the Gospel directs our gaze towards the Passion and Cross. We hear that those who expected Jesus to use his power to save himself, and mocked him, had not the slightest understanding of where his true power lay. The Incarnation and the Atonement speak of a love that will never let go of us. They are demonstrations of the vulnerability of divine love but, above all, they both reveal the vital truth about where the power of redeeming love is to be found. At Christmas we will sing the familiar carol Once in Royal David’s City, and as we do so, may our hearts rejoice with a greater realisation when we come to the words, ‘And our eyes at last shall see him through his own redeeming love’. This is the firm and unshakeable ground on which our faith stands.
Yours in Christ,
Canon Craufurd Murray
Advent Carol Service: this is a special S. Michael’s service of readings
and music next Sunday at 7:00 pm, to mark the beginning of Advent,
and is an occasion not to be missed.
Refreshments will also be served and you can still be home in daylight!
- Bible Study Group meets tomorrow, 7:15 pm in the school staffroom. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
- Vestry meets on Tuesday, beginning with Mass at 7:00 pm.
- Needlework Group: DVDs and supper, Tuesday. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
- Next Sunday we will pray for Elliot and Lily Luo as they go south for a few months. Elliot will be interim minister for the Presbyterian Parish of Mossburn.
- Lunch at Regatta on Avon: final for the year next Sunday at 12:15 pm. Details Ann & Dudley Jinman (347 8290).
- The Women’s Fellowship is collecting unwrapped Christmas presents for children (particularly for teenage boys) for distribution at the City Mission’s Christmas lunch. Please place your contributions in the basket in the parish lounge. Your gifts will help to make Christmas a little more special for someone.
- Christmas Sales Table organised by the Women’s Fellowship, 4 December in the hall. Christmas gifts, baking (including small Christmas cakes), craft, decorations etc. Proceeds towards new choir robes. Details Pat Evans (358 0127).
- School Carol Service: 4 December 5:00 pm. Prizegiving: 8 December 6:00 pm.
- Sales Table: Sundays after Mass. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
- Marmalade available on the sales table. Empty jars to the box in the lounge please.
- Book Swap: Sundays after Mass and weekdays in the lounge.
- Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Jill Woodside.
- Inasmuch basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts of groceries and other household items.