All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth! At the October Synod Together meeting in October we said farewell to Revd Nicola Furley-Smith after 8 ½ years as Moderator of Southern Synod. We wish her well as she takes up her new role as Secretaries to Ministries in the URC nationally. She has certainly left a gap in our lives and for now that gap is being filled by the two of us (Revd Bridget Banks and Revd George Watt) supported by Revd Paul Dean covering the Ecumenical work of the Synod. We hope that someone will be in post by the summer next year. Please pray that the right person would be found to permanently fill the gap.
But there is something endearing about the smile of someone missing their two front teeth! It makes you aware of the other teeth which are every bit as important as the front ones. And we would remind you that the Synod is also made up of the Office and Field Staff, the Ministers, Local Church Leaders, Elders and all the members and adherents of our local churches – all playing our part in the mission of the Church. Let us smile broadly and celebrate each other.
As Christians what we long for isn’t shiny new incisors but more of God’s kingdom. At Christmas we celebrate the coming of Christ to fill the gaps in our lives and in our world. He comes to bring light in our darkness, hope in our despair and peace in our troubled world. We are invited to come and gaze on the baby born in a humble stable. He was the one that had been longed for and wished for to rescue and to save.
But it wasn’t a one-off event. Christ comes afresh to the present troubled world to bring light, hope and peace. At the time of writing this letter we are preparing for a General Election and politicians are promising how to cure the ills of the present world. Promises can sound very easy, the hard thing is making it a reality. We rejoice that God didn’t just promise us that he would love us but he showed it in a very tangible way by sending Jesus into the world.
As unbelievable as it may sound this was part of God‘s plan to change hearts, minds and the whole world. As John Bell and Graham Maule from Wild Goose put it:
Who would think that what was needed
To transform and save the earth
Might not be a plan or army,
Proud in purpose, proved in worth?
Who would think, despite derision,
That a child should lead the way?
God surprises earth with heaven,
Coming here on Christmas Day.
This is the Good News that we will be celebrating in our churches when there is so many challenges and so much uncertainty in our world today.
But we are also invited to join in with this work. We all have a part to play. At the recent LICC (London Institute of Contemporary Christianity) day we were encouraged to avoid saying ‘I am just a…’ as though we have no part in God’s work. So, we should avoid thinking that we are just a florist, bin man, accountant, grandparent. We all have a part to play in filling the gaps in our world today. We can be the answer to our own prayers ‘All I want is…’ As we rejoice in God sending his Son into the world may we discover how he sends us to continue the work that he began.
We would like to wish all of you in local churches a happy and peaceful Christmas. And may you faithfully proclaim that Christ has been born amongst us bringing light in our darkness, hope where there is despair and peace where there is unrest.
Revd Bridget Banks and Revd George Watt