Thought for the Month (December 2016)

Dear Friends

Greeting in Jesus' name.

The months of November and December are probably the busiest months in the life of the church. They each have unique themes November is the national month of Remembrance and December is the focus for Advent and Christmas.

Remembrance takes us back to the things we have shared as a nation and community in times of war and reminds us of our search for true peace. In contrast, Advent begins by looking forward to the day of God's coming in Christ, as the only one who can bring true peace to our world. He is the hope every nation seeks for but very rarely finds.

Christmas reminds us that this Prince of Peace came first and foremost to save us from our sins and offer himself as our sacrifice that we as individuals may receive God's gift of peace to our hearts. This is the good news of the Gospel and it ought to be our central joy and hope as a new year begins as well as a new ministry within the pastorate.

Perhaps more poignant is that both Remembrance, Advent and Christmas are also about relationships. The relationship with those who have gone before, the relationship we have with each other now, as well as our relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Forging new relationships is what the good news is all about and over the past two years it has been my privilege to forge new relationships with some of you as churches and as individuals.

I have been much encouraged by the way in which you have shared the burden of ministry during the interregnum and your commitment and support to each other to share preaching resources and practical help. I know it has not been easy and now we are in the period of Advent as it were; waiting for Helen to arrive and to come and share with us the gifts God has given her.

Of course, like Advent, there are preparations to make. There is the manse to sort and things to work out practically for her coming. Arrangements for the induction service and sorting out future preaching engagements, all of which I know are in-hand. More importantly, it is preparing our hearts to receive a new voice as well as a new leader in our congregations who may challenge our views and focus as churches.

There is no such thing as a perfect minister or a perfect Church. Just as there is no such thing as a perfect couple in a marriage. Love has to be worked out, and worked through, by listening to one another, by looking for common agreement and by forgiving and forgetting each other's sins.

As Christmas reminds us, God's gift was a person, not an object, and people surprise us in all sorts of ways. Only when we treat them as a gift do we realise they are truly God's blessing. Someone has said; "The joy of every giving is when the giver is in the gift." This is true not only of Christ but also of every person he sends to our churches.

May God bless you and Helen in the future ministry he has prepared together.

Thank you all for your kind support and ministry to me.

Rev. Andy Coyne
Interim Moderator, Tunbridge Wells Group of United Reformed Churches

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church