Dear All,

Kath and I have now celebrated Christmas at Frenchay and Stapleton 3 times and each time has been 100% wonderful. Thank you to all who made it to one of the services in a local church, including Headway, Macmillan and Brace supporters and staff who led Carol Services.

The bishop wrote in his Christmas card: “look out for Jesus in the unlikely people and places”.  One special way in which I saw Jesus in this way was at a funeral of an elderly lady that I took before Christmas.  Staff from the care home were so fond of the lady’s son, that they gave him presents and invited him back as often as he liked for meals and company.  The hugs and kisses shared were not from church people, as far as I know.

Certainly the Church does not have a monopoly on the love of God.  And this is what I feel about this blog, that it is Church and community together, overlapping to a huge extent in purpose.  Jesus also encouraged pure love everywhere he witnessed it.  He said: “Whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward”….and…. “he that is not against us is for us.”

This wideness of God’s gifts and grace does not mean the softening of the message by those who follow Christ.  What is the point of having something which you believe to be radical in a good sense, if you are not prepared to share it honestly and openly?  So my invitation to you as we approach Lent (Feb 14)is to join the Church in a season of humbling ourselves and learning wisdom from simply ‘being’ and learning at Jesus’ feet.  The new Bristol housing estates were at first flattened before lots of new homes could emerge.  So Shrove Tuesday (Feb 13) can be helpful as we look at a flat pancake, or on Maundy Thursday (March 29) as we contemplate a piece of unleavened bread.  Are we brave enough to let ourselves be emptied of pride, complexity and business, for the sake of finding the truth in God’s Peace?

Rev Charles