Too early for Christmas?

I know – it’s not even December yet – so why bring up the C word in November? Well – time seems to fly for most of us – and it will be Christmas before we know it. So I wanted to take this early opportunity to encourage us all to start praying and thinking about how we can share the good news of Jesus with people once the festive season kicks in. Here is a 5 step challenge – why not give it a go?

1. Choose 5 people who you would like to see come to know Jesus. If there are more – or less – on your list then that’s fine. Having identified these people – start to pray for them regularly.

2. Pray God’s blessing on them every day during Advent – you could do this as you open your advent calendar each morning.

3. Spend time with them between now and Christmas; you could throw a party, take them out for a coffee, go for a walk or invite them round for dinner. Be kind, be ready to listen, to help and if appropriate to share a bit of what you believe.

4. Invite at least one of them to a Christmas service. There will be a few services to choose from and there will be plenty of publicity available towards the start of December.

5. Finally – simply see what happens. There needn’t be any pressure around this challenge and we can be relaxed about what happens as a result. It may be that God takes the steps suggested above and performs a miracle. It may be that this Advent is just another, almost imperceptible step closer to God for the people you are praying for. Whatever we see happen – we can be 100% sure that God is at work in those people’s lives.

The Christmas story is rich with invitations. God invites Mary and Joseph into an adventure. The Shepherds and the Magi are invited and led to Bethlehem in order to meet Jesus. Through Jesus the world was – and still is – invited to draw near to God and find hope, love, peace and salvation. So let’s not be afraid to pray, to care and to share the good news and to invite people to come and meet Jesus this Christmas.

Let’s go for it!

Wessex Bible Festival

This was the first Wessex Bible Festival we had attended so we really didn’t know what to expect!

It was good to gather in two of the other churches of the parish (St Aldhelm’s and Emmanuel) and, as relative newcomers to the area, we appreciated this opportunity to meet people from a variety of churches.

We only attended the evening meetings where we were welcomed with tea, coffee and biscuits. This was followed by a time of worship which led into the teaching sessions. Unfortunately, we were unable to attend the lunch with the question and answer session afterwards.

The guest speaker was Revd Dr Andrew Angel who has a fantastic teaching and prophetic ministry. He kept the sessions lively and interesting and we are sure that all who were there left with a greater understanding of the Word and how to apply it to our lives.

Although we really appreciate the teaching that we get at St John’s it was good to have this opportunity for deeper Bible teaching.

We would recommend listening to the recordings of the talks which are available from the Parish Office at £3 each.

Tony and Diane Blackwell

Church work party

What a wonderful number of people turned up for the Autumn Work Party. There were more than 20 both inside and outside the building. Inside, brass was buffed, books were sorted, kitchen cleaned, glass door polished and carpets vacuumed. Outside, drains were cleared, gullies swept, litter collected, foliage pruned, ivy removed, grass edges straightened and the front border tidied.

At a very convenient moment the owner of a guest house, Andy offered to make coffee. As the kitchen was temporarily out of action this was very welcome. We all sat down for a well earned rest, chat with coffee and cakes.

Thank you so much to all those who were able to be there. Do come and join us for the Spring Work Party!

Pause for thought…

You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth-pains. Matthew 24: 6-8

These words of Jesus seem to have many similarities to our world today and we do well to remind ourselves of His words. Jesus said also, “see to it that you are not alarmed”. It is difficult for us when we see the devastation caused by tsunamis with so much death, suffering and destruction. Then again we see wars, terrorism, hunger, homelessness and disease throughout large areas of our world resulting in thousands of deaths every day.

James in his Epistle reminds us of man’s inhumanity to man – “what causes fights and quarrels among you?” Sadly much in our world is done in the name of race or religion or the desire for power and domination. So people covet and kill, quarrel and fight. Sadly we can bring this down to individual level and our relationships with each other in the home, among families, and within communities. We squabble, we row, we quarrel and we resort to violence. Friendships and families are broken, neighbourliness disappears and communities are divided. Are you alarmed?

James in his epistle says, “submit yourself to God” and Paul reassures us that, “God is faithful. He will not suffer you to be tempted beyond what you can bear” and, “nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. A comfort to believers but what about others? Jesus in Matthew 28 gave us the answer, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations … teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you and surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age”.

John Downer

Celebration of New Ministry

The Licensing and Installation of the Revd Jo Haine as team Vicar, with responsibility for St Mary’s and Emmanuel took place last month in St Mary’s Church. The service was well attended by guests from the local community and members of Weymouth and Portland churches and also from members from her previous parish in Dorchester. Bishop Karen presided. The photograph shows Jo with Tom and Councillor Gill Taylor, Mayor of Weymouth and Portland.

Before training for ministry, Jo worked for 15 years as a Registered Mental Health Nurse and Manager in Poole. Jo is married to Darren and they have 2 children, Taize and Ezra.

Please remember the family in your prayers as they settle into their new surroundings.