Advent 2020: 24 days waiting expectantly for the coming King! Accompanied by our online Advent Calendar, featuring original artwork produced by some very talented church members – thank you! The reflections can be downloaded below, or viewed via this link to the website of our sister church, All Saints: Daily Inspiration for Advent
Looking for Light: a great tonic when the days are short and the nights are long! A series of reflections on the theme of light in the bible can be downloaded below or viewed via this link to the website of our sister church, All Saints: Looking for Light - Daily Inspirations
Remembrance: our short series from Isaiah and the Psalms for the season of Remembrance can be downloaded below or viewed via this link to the website of our sister church, All Saints: Remembrance - Daily Inspirations
Daily Inspiration in John: our autumn reflections on John chapters 1-6 can be downloaded below, or viewed via this link to the website of our sister church, All Saints: Daily Inspiration in John Day-By-Day
– our spring series of 33 Reflections based on James Bryan Smith’s wonderful book are now available again for Advent (as part of a new discipleship initiative sponsored by MK Mission Partnership) and can be downloaded below, or viewed via this link to the website of our sister church, All Saints:
The bible is full of rich images of what it means to truly live in the abundant life of God. Psalm 1 describes one such (particularly good) image: the tree. Our lives were designed by God to be like a tree.
I must confess that I love trees. I love being close to them, just standing in their presence, admiring their size, their beauty, their dignity. Trees are one of the greatest parts of God’s creation. They heal, they shelter, they stand strong and firm in all weather. They just are. Or rather, they have been, they are and they will be. That sense of majestic permanence is part of their appeal.
God calls us to be like that: trees which reflect his glory. Psalm 1 shows us why and how. First, we need roots. This psalm places our roots firmly in the Word of God – v2 delighting in ‘the law of the Lord’ – and the Spirit of God. The biblical image of water in v3 usually connects with God’s presence, so this tree planted by a stream can easily be understood to mean one who is constantly refreshed by the water of God’s presence – his Spirit.
Second, we bear fruit. We all know that spring is coming when the buds appear on trees. In summer those buds blossom into leaves and even fruit. A tree ‘yields its fruit in season’ (v3). So should our lives. Nourished by Word and Spirit, we stand where we are and bear fruit for our Lord.
Finally, this Psalm contrasts the rootedness and fruitfulness of such a person with the alternative. Those who do not go deep with God ‘are like chaff that the wind blows away.’ (v4) Blown here and there by wherever the current of our culture leads, such lives ultimately cannot prosper. They may flower for a while, but the shaking of the wind proves fatal.
If you can, take a moment today to find a tree and spend time admiring it. God is calling you to be such a tree: rooted in his Word, nourished by his Spirit, fruitful, strong and dignified. You probably don’t feel much like that – none of us do – but by His amazing grace, that is what we can all become.
Reading Psalm 1 today, how might you keep growing into this beautiful calling?
In the last few weeks, we’ve all learned some new words which have become key parts of our language. Self-isolating, social distancing, PPE... and shielding. The idea that we have vulnerable loved ones who we need to protect by restricting our own behaviour is one of the great sacrificial acts of service now being performed by millions around our country, and no doubt across the world.
Although the shield (in the classic sense we understand it) stopped being used in most forms of warfare centuries ago, the idea lives on, and we immediately know what is meant. Captain America has one, there’s a whole US TV series called by the name, and footballers are taught how to ‘shield’ the ball. A shield protects the person or object which is under attack.
But when we need protection, where do we look? In Psalm 3, King David is in real danger. His son has usurped the throne in a coup and David has fled for his life. He lacks allies and support – where does he look for help? ‘But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.’ (v3) David has nowhere else to turn: only God can protect him, shield him, now.
In these uncertain times, we too look around for protection. And to some degree, we can find it in the practical steps we can take to minimise the risk of infection. But life remain precarious: where can we turn for help? This Psalm encourages us that we have a better place to run, a deeper truth to receive, a bigger shield in play. God can be our shield.
It’s not magic, or a slot machine. We all know those who have caught COVID-19, and tragically many of us will know someone who has died of it. Our divine shield is not a guarantee of survival. But it is a source of confidence, of peace, of the hope that bigger things are at play. In the kingdom of God, sickness does not have the last word, even as Absalom’s armies did not in the time of King David. May we too, like David, declare this truth over our lives, and the lives of those we know, and may it cause us to find hope and peace today: ‘From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.’ Amen.
9.30am Family Communion with Childrens' Church
8.30 am Traditional Communion using the Book of Common Prayer
9.30 am Cafe Church
9.30 am Family Communion with Childrens' Church
9.30 am Morning Worship
5th Sundays (when appropriate)
9.30 am Family Communion with Childrens' Church
To get full details about what's going on in St. Mary's for this month, please click here.