From the pastor’s pen: Christmas lights
Ever since we moved to our new home 3 years ago, Valentina and I never really decorated the house for Christmas. We would have had to buy new decorations and we didn’t really see the point since we spend the holidays back home with our respective families.
But this year we decided to go for it and make our home look more Christmassy. Once we turned on the lights and lit all sort of candles and Christmas scents, I was reminded of just how much I love Christmas decorations! The lights, the candles, the scents, they all work together to produce a soothing, calming and cosy atmosphere that you just don’t get throughout the year. It reminds me the holidays are almost there and, with them, rest, family and presents!
As I was looking at our lights gently blinking away in our dark living room, I couldn’t help it but think about the ultimate light that came on just over 2000 years ago – an eternal light that yet the world had forgotten and that God sent down to earth in the form of his Son Jesus to reveal himself to us again.
It’s interesting to know that only 2 Gospels out of 4 begin with the birth of Jesus. While Mark doesn’t even mention it, John takes us back into eternity past introducing Jesus from before his birth – as the Word of God. It is there that we read:
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world… The word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, gory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth”
In John’s Gospel and letters, the theme of light and darkness is very prominent. As he puts it in his first epistle 1:5 “God is light and in him is no darkness at all”. He is the radiance of all that is perfect and good – life, love, truth, righteousness, justice, holiness, mercy, grace, peace, joy, purpose, value etc. Darkness, on the other hand, is an absence of him, an absence of his presence, an absence of all the good and perfect realities sourced in him. In between stands the world, with a choice to either access all of that goodness by a relationship of love and obedience with God the Creator, or none of it through independence. Since the dawn of time mankind has sought to find a way to have the best of both worlds, access to God’s unrestricted “light” and goodness yet without a relationship with Him (Brexit ain’t something new!). But that is the ultimate lie for we can’t have one without the other.
The birth of Jesus was the God’s ultimate revelation and reminder of the light he invites us in, of the unrestricted goodness that we can only access by coming under the leadership of our Creator and loving Father. Jesus came to shine with the light God in a world enveloped in darkness to extend an invitation to be forgiven and reconciled with the God we so easily run away from – before it’s too late:
“He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”
Now to all those who have received him, who have become children of God, forgiven, restored and progressively transformed from darkness to light, he now says “You are the light of the world” – we are now the ones tasked to carry on what Jesus started and continue to shine with his light – pointing people to our God and extending the same invitation that was extended to us.
This Christmas, when the lights come on, may we be reminded of our new identity and call. Our light may not be that bright or that impressive, but the darkness of our world is so intense that it will cause it to shine the brightest. This season (and throughout the year), let us intentionally shine with the light of Christ in the darkest corners of Blackburn and beyond.
Speaking of shining with the light of Jesus, why not make an intentional effort to invite friends, colleagues and relatives to our Christmas specials.
On Saturday the 8th of December, from 11am to 1pm, we will be hosting a Christmas party for all children from 4 to 10 years old.
The kids will be taught the true message of Christmas while having tons of fun. The night includes games, challenges, prizes, treats, a bouncy castle and a Christmas jumper competition! Lunch will be provided as well as presents! The whole thing is completely free of charge!
Please sign up your children and their friends as soon as possible by following this link - https://thebeaconblackburn.churchsuite.co.uk/events/syhx9l1w?details=1&photo=1&description=1&location=1&gmap=1&signup_form=1
Invitation leaflets available in the foyer.
Our main Christmas celebrations will take place on Sunday the 16th of December.
From 10.30am to 12.30pm we will come together for a special Christmas service comprising a Nativity play starring our kids and young people, as well as a medley of Carols – from timeless to more contemporary ones. The service will also include a message on the true hope of Jesus’ birth.
Make sure to invite as many friends and relatives as possible!
Invitation leaflets are now available in the foyer.
At 1.30pm we will get together for a time of fine food and fellowship at the North Cote cafe’. The prices are £20 per adult and £5 per child. If you would like to join us, please make sure to leave us with your menu choices and payment by Sunday 2nd of December. Please hand everything in to Valentina or Doreen Hicken in her absence. You can also pay on our Church app.
Particularly this season, we don’t want to be forgetful of our local foodbank as they will be supporting a number of families and individuals that will struggle to put food on their table. As we shop for our own Christmas dinner, let us remember to buy extras for our local foodbank – and let us be generous about it! There’s a full list of needed items on the notice board in the foyer.
I am currently planning ways in which we can address the problem of loneliness, hunger and poverty across our borough more effectively, particularly at times such as Christmas, Easter and Summer holidays. Any thoughts or ideas on the matter will be welcome!
Our new General Superintendent Chris Cartwright will be with us on Sunday the 9th of December. Let us not miss the opportunity to meet him for the first time and give him a proper Blackburn welcome!
I am planning a Vision Day for early 2019. Could our department heads please submit their reports by no later than Jan 13th.
Dates for diary
Over 50’s Christmas edition – Friday 7th at 11am
Over 18’s House Group – Friday 7th (time tbc)
Simon and Valentina’s Holidays – from Thursday 27th of Dec to Wednesday 9th of Jan