We are about to begin a new journey. It will feel familiar because it is a journey that many of us have been on before, yet we will find that it is not quite as we remember and we may spot something new, something we haven't noticed before; we may find ourselves taking that little detour we have sometimes wondered about or we may find that a diversion is in place. We might spend part of the journey in conversation with someone new and so provoke a different point of view, we might spend some of the journey with someone very familiar yet learn something fresh and exciting - if we really engage in the journey we should finish in an unexpected place - so let's see where this new adventure might take us...
At the heart of Luke's gospel is a journey that will take us from Galilee to Jerusalem and then out into the world. The story is driven forward by the Holy Spirit, we will meet around the table with people who don't have a voice elsewhere, we will hear some of the great parables, we will see Jesus proclaimed as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, as the bringer of God's reign, as salvation for the poor, the pained, the lost, the weary, the dis-eased and the despairing. We shall be confronted by grace, by blessings and we will be invited to join in, to be part of the pilgrimage, the mission, to be disciples, to sit at the feet of the teacher and learn.
For the next year the lectionary will lead us through Luke's gospel and we will be invited to join the journey, engage in the conversations, celebrate God's grace. You can do this in many ways:-
1 By joining with us Sunday by Sunday to worship and to explore
2 By becoming part of the web-based community that seeks a place where the speechless sing. I know plenty of you read but your comments would be welcome as well.
3 By joining in the various small groups that are offered by both churches and are open to anyone who wishes to join -
- Sunday Connection will be a new group meeting at Hallfold on either the third or fourth Sunday evening each month making connections between the sermon, the texts, our lives and our faith.
- Monday Fellowship will meet at a members house (usually) on the first Monday in the month looking ahead to the texts for the following Sunday.
- Monday Housegroup meets at (usually) on the last Monday in the month looking at various issues that arise from our faith journeys.
- Sharing Stories meet at St. Andrew's at 1pm on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday's of each month. As a group we decide which stories we want to share, but for December and January at the very least we will be exploring Luke.
- We will look to re-introduce After Words the after service discussions at St. Andrew's (and at Hallfold if there is a wish to do so)
4 I will try to introduce some ideas in the newsletters and on the website that might help you prepare for Sunday and reflect upon your own adventure. My sermon notes will continue to appear on the website and your comments will always be welcome there - we have to be in conversation so that we can each learn of God's purposes for us from one another.
We want to see real growth in our churches over the next couple of years and that will only come from each of us engaging seriously in the challenge to be involved in whatever God has in store for us, our tradition is one in which we seek that purpose together - we discuss theology - that is God talk, people in conversation about God and with God. Luke's people do that in formal meetings and around the dinner table - we must do the same.
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Shepherds watch and wise men wonder,
Monarchs scorn and angels sing;
Such a place as none would reckon
Hosts a holy helpless thing;
Stable beasts and by-passed stranger
Watch a baby laid in hay:
God surprises earth with heaven
Coming here on Christmas Day.
John L Bell & Graham Maule
So let's head out on this new adventure, prepared to be surprised by God talk.