Methodist Church

Springfield Road, Bexhill on Sea,
East Sussex TN40 2BX

Christchurch Methodist Church
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Methodist Church

Superintendent Minister’s Message
for December 2023

Dear Friends

December brings us to the season of Advent which prepares us for the Christmas season. This time of preparing is something that we do every year, and our preparations take many forms, both practical and spiritual. We get ready for the coming of Christmas by hearing again of the stories behind the Story, the Advent hope, the story of the prophets who looked forward for the coming Messiah, John the Baptist, Jesus' cousin, who grew up with him, and Mary, mother of Jesus, who said 'yes' to God and was the one who gave birth to Jesus. Advent gives us a time to get ready for the coming of the baby who was born in Bethlehem and whose cry shattered the stillness of the night long ago.

Into this very human story comes the mystery of God, who engages with the world in a way that had not been seen or known before. As Charles Wesley wrote about the mystery of the incarnation 'Our God, contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man', as he too wrestled with the incarnation and its meaning for our world. The Gospel tells us that God has come among us, born into our humanity which means that God is sharing with us in our world, in our time, in our place. And all in the cry of a baby, who comes in the vulnerability of birth and into the dependency of Mary and Joseph. It is this gift that we await, and we find in the incarnation that God's gift is rooted in our world, in our place, which is why we get ready. We light the advent candles as a sign of God who shares love, joy, peace and hope into our world. These gifts of God are all around the central candle, the one which is lit on or around Christmas day, as a sign of Jesus who is the light of the world. I always say to the recipient of a baptismal candle that the light seems small, but it adds to all the rest, and in a darkened place that light will overcome the darkness. We see this particularly as we remember Jesus as light for the world. That is Christmas, the coming of Jesus into the life of the world. In doing so we can say 'Happy Christmas', may we have a blessed and peaceful time within this festive season again this year.

As we move into a New Year, we change the date, remind ourselves of new possibilities and some Churches share in the Annual Covenant service as we remember and celebrate our ongoing discipleship. In past days, Methodists often celebrated the coming of the New Year with a Watchnight sharing together in a party and a service. This is a time when the New Year was welcomed in with prayer, thanksgiving and hope. Even though we may not often meet to do this now, many Methodists continue to pray in the New Year as we prayerfully welcome new opportunities and new hopes. Perhaps we could do so again this year - either at midnight or later on New Year's Day, as we seek God's blessing for our uncertain world and pray especially for those who face challenges, and remember all who seek peace.

May the light of Christmas be with us all as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus and may light shine into that New Year and may God's light, hope, peace and blessing be with us all, with our Church, our community and our world.

Every Blessing

Rev Philip

Rev Philip Wagstaff

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Hastings Bexhill & Rye Methodist Circuit - Charity number 1134757