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Minister's Letter for 3 & 10 December

Dear Friends,

It is the first Sunday in Advent this week. The word Advent derives from the Latin 'adventus' meaning arrival or coming. It is a time for preparing, but more than what the shops and other adverts would have us do. Yes, we want and need to get ready to celebrate with presents, visits, and parties but ideally this is a time when we pause and take a moment to prepare a space for God within our lives.

The Methodist Church's theme for Advent and Christmas this year is 'Out of the ordinary'. We rush about trying to make Christmas an extraordinary experience for everyone, we sometime forget that Jesus arrived in ordinariness – born to an ordinary family thrust into unusual circumstances and trying to navigate their way through a messy and complicated world (sound familiar?).

The temptation is to fill our lives with more 'stuff', striving to make things better. Instead it becomes more difficult to find that God space in our everyday lives. And so we need to work out what needs to be discarded in order to achieve this – what is the 'rubbish' that is preventing our connecting with God. This time of Advent gives us the opportunity to be intentional about this clearing out and letting go because it is not an easy thing to do. We have to discern the rubbish from the treasure, and it is not always obvious which is which!

In church speak we would call this repentance – reflecting on the parts of our character and actions which do not honour God or each other and through the letting go of these, purposefully turning back to God. The Isaiah passage for this week is the continuation of a prayer of penitence (sharing regret or sorrow) crying out for God's presence once again in their lives, having deliberately turned away from God. It is pretty desperate stuff, a real mess, but then there is this one verse that gives hope.

"Yet, O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand." (Isaiah 64:8)

It may be a glimmer of hope, in the context of the people suffering exile and God's seeming indifference to their situation, nevertheless it is there. God is creating and forming us – we will not be discarded. There may be some uncomfortable reshaping, we may not end up looking or being the shape we expect to be, but we will be God-formed and more able to have that space for God in all the hustle and bustle and calls on our attention in these next few weeks.

May we find the time and space to pause, to clear our hearts and minds and be ready for Jesus' arrival, in the past, present and future. Amen

Every blessing
Rev Karen

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