Rev Rob Cotton's 51st Epistle to Knutsford (December)
I know that this seems quite shocking, but Christmas is coming! Advent is upon us and this season of preparing ourselves spiritually (and practically too) for Christmas begins.
The Christmas displays have been in the shops for some time and the Christmas adverts have been launched but, for me, they seem rather disappointing. The John Lewis ‘Moz the dragon’ sleeping under your bed advert might give some children nightmares, but the low point must be Gregg’s version of the Nativity with a sausage roll taking the place of Jesus! However, if their intention was to get some publicity, then it has certainly worked.
Our own preparations begin with the Christmas Fayre, Sunday worship including the lovely NCH Action for Children Carols by candlelight and ‘The Good News Singers’ on Monday 27th November. It should be a really exciting weekend of sharing together with our local community and, as a church, encountering God in worship.
We are also pleased that Bishop Mike Hill will be returning to take our morning services on Sunday 10th December, after his recent retirement. This will be alongside all of our usual Christmas Carol Services which are listed separately, so I will not bore you by listing them here, but just to say that I am looking forward to sharing with you all that we have in store.
The important thing is that we have the real sense of welcoming Jesus into our world and into our lives. This experience is particularly tangible as we worship together and share in some of our most significant times of fellowship during the year. What exciting things does God have in store for us during the coming year of Hope 18?
Beginning the New Year with our Covenant Service is always particularly poignant and spiritually helpful but, on January 14th at 10.45am, we will also be Commissioning our small team of workers under the leadership of Dan Harris as they prepare to launch a new Kingdom Community (A New Thing in Northwich). This will be church, but not as you know it, a community that is known for loving out loud. With the values and mission emphases of KMC, being worked out in a pioneering project focussed upon Northwich. This will be a Pilot Project, which will then have a public launch (subject to Church Council approval) on Palm Sunday (March 25th). Dan is now part of the ‘Pioneer Pathway’ a creative community of Pioneers within the Methodist Church, which will offer additional support and oversight alongside that of two Districts and our two Circuits.
In January we will be launching our next Alpha Course, alongside which we will also be hosting another Just 10 Course on the 10 Commandments by J John. We are currently planning an Alpha Launch Dinner on Friday 12th January at 7pm(TBC). The speakers we have invited have incredible real life stories of transformation which will inspire you and the guests that you invite in the coming weeks. Do prayerfully consider who you should invite.
On December 3rd in our morning worship our focus is ‘Mission in Britain’ as we reflect upon the Outreach of our church and the great opportunities there are for us all to be involved in passionately sharing Gods love with others in word and action. This is part of our preparation for Hope 18, during which the whole church will be seeking to reach the whole nation for a whole year.
I would like us all to pray about how we personally respond to the opportunities that will be available. For example, we are hoping to launch a new Toddlers group on Wednesday mornings starting on January 10th, but we do now need the volunteers to form a team to facilitate this ministry. Could this be something that you would like to explore?
Hope 18 will include opportunities for us to share specially produced resources with our friends, family and contacts, but I invite you all to pray to God, to put on your heart the five people who you are to personally pray for on a regular basis and to share with at an appropriate point. Part of the vision of Hope 18, is that each church will grow by 10% during the year. This may seem like a huge challenge, but there are black majority churches who are concerned that this demonstrates a lack of faith and they are embarrassed to be sharing such a small vision with their members!
As we prepare for Christmas, New Year and Hope 18, I am more aware than ever of the importance to undergird everything we do in prayer, do take time out to seek God’s will for our church and for our lives. It has been a privilege to recently share with families at times of bereavement and to celebrate the faith and lives of our friends. The assurance and faith that I have experienced in those people has been amazing. I now invite you all to prayerfully reflect upon Romans 15 verse 13 ‘May God, the source of hope, fill you with
all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ This is my prayer for all of you at this time.
Carol and I wish you a very Happy Christmas and a Blessed New Year during which you know the favour of God.
Your friend and Minister,
Rev. Rob Cotton