Dear Friends,
In a small oppressed village, on some otherwise ordinary night, weary and threadbare from a long and arduous journey, a wonderful thing happened, not just to Mary and her husband Joseph, but to the world.

What a time of year this is, wonderful for some, difficult for others; busy for some, restful for others; family time for some, a lonely time for others; festive for some, solemn for others.

In a make shift shelter that no one would have ever dreamed to look, God came. God came into the very worst of times, a time of gloom to usher in a time of real joy.

“Do not be afraid” the angel said “for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord! This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” Into the worst of times came the very best news.

And so what is God doing right now, today in your life and the life of the church? We look around and most times we see only doom. And that may be because there is a fair amount of doom and gloom, certainly enough to go around.

The birth of the Christ Child meant that the ‘Heaven’ has come near. It signalled God coming into our todays; coming into our everyday. Jesus our Immanuel, God with us, comes to us as intimately as a trusted and loved confident and says to us as was said to the very first disciples, “I am with you always.” These words are a form of invitation to lean on him, to learn from him, to follow him and as a result, to live in the way God intended us to live. We are called to become like Christ, to show God’s hope where there is despair; to shine God’s light where there is the feeling of gloom; to follow, to listen, to learn from the example of Christ. And we know that that is no easy task.

To help us in our task as a church the SWHG will start a series of services and sessions from February to March 2019 on Discipleship, looking at how we can better follow Christ’s example. In February we begin by looking at Biblical Teaching.

Into our gloomy world Christ came to shine a light on something new, let us as his disciples follow him.

Happy Christmas and a bright and blessed New Year.
Mark