- Christmas in the Christian Calendar
When I first saw mince pies in the shops in September, I ignored them thinking “How ridiculous. It is three and a half months away”. Even though I won’t be eating or buying any just yet, I now must recognise that Christmas is beginning to loom close in the Christian calendar.
This year, we are holding Gift Services on Sunday 1st December at both Ruyton in the morning and Great Ness in the evening, in aid of teenagers who frequent the Children’s Society drop-in centre in Shrewsbury. Rachel Thomas, the Lichfield diocese representative will be with us in the morning, talking about what the charity now offers in this area. I would like to encourage you to come along or, if you are unable to join us, leave a gift at the Vicarage or Cafe Eleven – presents for boys and girls aged 10-18 (marking which they are for). Some of these young people will not get any other gifts and it would be lovely to be able to bless them.
That service will also be the beginning of a year-long sermon series entitled 2020 Vision. During Advent you will get one or two tasters and then it will start in earnest on January 5th. The idea is that we will look at the Bible from beginning to end and see how Jesus is in evidence everywhere. Sometimes it will be thematic and sometimes consecutive but I am keen to help us all understand the story of God in one big sweep rather than just the tiny segments that are often hard to piece together. We will also be holding monthly sessions to discuss some of the topics where I hope we can explore some of the tricky questions of faith.
Finally, I would like to invite those of you who do not consider yourself regular church goers to come and join us at any of our carol services – one at every church – or Christmas services where we have a wide selection from a Family Crib Service at Great Ness to Midnight Communion at Little Ness, with special Christmas morning communion services at both Great Ness and Ruyton. My prayer is that you will begin to realise that the God who made heaven and earth really wants to be in relationship with you and that He sent his only Son Jesus to earth to make it possible.
Merry Christmas Blessings, Lucinda
- Bloomin’ Lovely
Recently the church held the Bloomin’ Lovely event ending with Songs of Praise outside in the castle grounds. It was a wonderful weekend of celebration. We celebrated the creativity of some of the villagers, we celebrated the artistic gifts of the authors of the books that had been chosen and most importantly we celebrated the beautiful creation that we have been given by God to care for. I am writing this on what is probably going to be the hottest day we have ever had in the UK. In June we had one of the wettest months on record. We cannot but think of climate change when this is happening. Are we really caring for our environment? God’s very first command is ‘Be fruitful and multiply and have dominion over every living thing that moves on the earth.’
Critics of the Bible and Christianity argue that this verse is a major cause of the abusive relationship humanity has had with the earth. The invitation to ‘have dominion’ over the earth and its creatures has, we are told, encouraged us to treat the earth with contempt and to see it as existing only for our benefit and well-being and it is not just in the world today. The Israeli historian, Yuval Harari, in his widely acclaimed book ‘Sapiens’ says this: ‘Don’t believe the tree-huggers who claim that our ancestors lived in harmony with nature. Long before the Industrial Revolution, Homo Sapiens held the record among all organisms for driving the most plant and animal species to their extinction.’
We are all well aware that we probably need to change our life-style. We only have to listen to the constant laments of David Attenborough or watch various TV documentaries to see what is happening. So do these destructive attitudes and actions spring from that divine command ‘to have dominion over the earth’? I believe the answer is No. The Hebrew verb for ‘have dominion’ does carry the meaning of ‘rule’ and ‘govern’ but it also has links to the word for shepherd so that it has the connotation of care and nurture built into it. Human beings are made in the image of God so we should be reflecting the ways of God. But our selfishness and rebellion against God gets in the way. So my challenge to all of us this summer is: Are there any other ways in which we can care for creation and the environment in our homes and in our churches? I will probably continue this conversation during our Harvest Celebrations…
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