Stratford and Evesham Methodist Circuit

Ian's letter

December 2017

Dear Friends

Where shall I find God?

The period covered by this plan includes the celebration of Christmas and the beginning of 2018, both significant events in the calendar with all the accompanying preparation and expectations. Each Christmas we celebrate the good news of God made flesh in the baby Jesus, born to Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem, and because we know the story so well it probably takes a bit of investment of our time to appreciate once again what is happening in these familiar set of events. What is it that God tells us through this birth? How does it influence our faithful discipleship in our daily lives?

It is surely significant that the birth took place amidst some confusion and struggle, and in a context that was pretty ordinary. God did not take flesh in a grand religious or political building, nor did he come in ease and comfort. It is a birth which takes place in a context like thousands of others, full of anxiety, uncertainty, relief and joy. The wonder and amazement of the story to me is its ordinariness. Peel away some of the ‘chocolate box’ images of the stable and you are left with a birth which strikes you with the mess and vulnerability and awe of this precious gift amongst very ordinary surroundings.

God is Emmanuel, ‘God with us’, and the celebration of Christmas tells us that this place of meeting with God is here and now in the mess and vulnerability and awe of our own lives and those around us. To meet and know God, I believe, is to become ever more aware of God at work around us in the ordinary and everyday. One of the gifts and challenges of the Christmas story is to ensure that we are open to receiving God today.

Each New Year many Methodist churches celebrate the Covenant Service, which is an excellent opportunity for both examining what has gone before and preparing for what is to come. At its heart it is a celebration of God’s covenant; God’s promises of grace and hope poured out for us. It can be difficult to hold on to the message of the covenant service as the days and weeks of a New Year unfold. All the more reason then, I think, to continually seek God in the only moment that we have – now.

Peace, Ian