Mat’s December Letter

There are a few issues that I regularly reflect on. One of those is whether we as a church are over-active. Do we try and do too much? Consequently do we give the impression that the only way to be fully part of the church is to give some of our leisure time to support the activities of the church? Whilst it is important, where we can, to give our time to the ministry of the church, to focus only on these times of corporate ministry is to miss a large part of all the church is. Yes, we are the body of Christ when we are together but we are still the body of Christ when we are going about our everyday lives as individuals. We are still fully church!

In his book ‘Imagine Church’ Neil Hudson argues that one of the main issues facing the church is that we too easily view ministry for Jesus as what is done in the few hours we give to the church from our leisure time. Rather than all the hours we have each week. If Jesus is Lord then he is Lord of everything—not just the bits I do for the church in my spare time.

As I’ve been preparing for Christmas I’ve been struck again by how God chose to be born into the ordinary lives of ordinary people in an ordinary town. Many of Jesus’ encounters in the gospels are with the ordinary people going about their ordinary way of life. Mary and Joseph are ordinary people. Yes they are described as favoured (Mary, Luke 1:28Open Link in New Window) and righteous (Joseph, Matthew 1:19Open Link in New Window). Yes they listened to the angel, trusted in the word of God for them and were obedient to it in their everyday lives. But they didn’t withdraw from society to give birth to the Messiah. They continued to live in the occupied country. Mary even carried the baby to the census where Jesus was born. No special favours. God came into the ordinary.

As we travel through this Advent towards Christmas let’s try to recognise God in the ordinary. Remember that God calls us to listen and be disciples of Jesus in the ordinary everydayness. That means giving time each day to prayer, reading and applying scripture to our lives; being open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit; learning to recognise God’s presence at all times. Eugene Peterson puts it like this;

‘The Way of Jesus…is a way of bringing the kingdom of love to the reality of this present moment, through the Way we travel, through the Way we are, and through the Way we are with God’.

Perhaps this Advent, with me, you’d like to commit to learning to do this. Begin by giving a few minutes of silence at the beginning, middle and end of each day to God. Perhaps reflecting on a verse from the reading from the Sunday before or simply ‘being’ in God’s presence and listening.


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