Christmas slide-show

A few photos have come in of this year’s Christmas services at Didsbury Baptist Church. I have put some of them together in the slide-show below. Many thanks to Anna and Steve for the photos.

Sacred Space

Baptists are not always very keen on the idea of sacred space. Some point to the idea that the whole world is God’s creation, others to the idea that we can encounter God anywhere. Either way, every space might be thought of as sacred space. Other Baptists take issue with symbols and signs thinking that even crosses and candles might themselves become idols detracting from the true worship of God. Yet even if we agree with these ways of thinking, we surely can still hold out for some imaginative expression in the design of space usually set aside for worship. The worship-spaces in some of today’s buildings lack any symbolic focus. They look more like school halls, auditoriums, concert halls or theatres than like sanctuaries. We, at Didsbury Baptist Church, are thinking about these issues because our building needs work and we are planning to make some significant changes to it both inside and out. While we ask how we should reorder our sanctuary for the future, we are left still to make the most of what we have now. One of the ways we are able to do this is through the use of symbols and lighting. Steve, our lighting technician, works hard to produce an environment that speaks of the welcoming love of God for all who enter our doors. The photo above shows how the sanctuary looked just before we lit the candles in advance of our candlelight carol service on Christmas Eve. I think the place looked spectacular. Great job Steve, many thanks!

The Word became flesh

Happy Christmas to all our readers!

The Bible readings for Christmas day include: Isaiah 52.7–10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1.1–4 [5–12]; John 1.1–14.   I love the John reading for Christmas morning. Although our all-age service at Didsbury Baptist Church will be light and fun, I will still take a few minutes to read John 1.1–14. For me, it simply would not be Christmas without it.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

I think it was William Temple who said, ‘Christianity is the most materialistic of all religions’. He must have had the Incarnation in mind. Through it we learn that God cares about the whole person.

Through the incarnation we  learn what God is like. If you want to know what God is like, they say, take a look at Jesus.

Christmas Eve

The readings for Christmas Eve are: Psalm 45; Malachi 3.13 – 4.6; Luke 1.67–79.

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1.78–9)

Out of the depths

The Bible readings for Wed 23 December are: Psalm 130; Malachi 2.17 – 3.12; Luke 1.57–66.

Today’s readings are united in the theme of waiting for God or trusting in God. It is the Lord who will redeem Israel (Ps 130), the Lord who will suddenly visit his temple (Malachi), and the Lord who restores the speech of Zechariah (Luke 1).

It is not immediately clear what is envisioned by ‘The Lord will redeem Israel from all its iniquities’ (Ps 130.8). Clearly, forgiveness is in view. Yet the Hebrew word for ‘iniquity’ also means ‘guilt’, ‘condemnation’ or ‘punishment’. Redemption then may imply a kind of healing of both sinner and sinned-against. It may imply that a time of distress, brought about as a consequence of wrongdoing, is coming to an end and a new chapter opening, much as for Zechariah in the Gospel reading.

This Advent and Christmas, we might ask whether we have been the cause of our own, or someone else’s, distress. Perhaps, this Christmas we can begin to put that right and help to make this Christmas memorable not for family squabbles but for forgiveness and reconciliation. Perhaps too, we might pray and work for those in our world who long achingly for justice and peace.

Christmas Festival Service 2009

It was snowing in Manchester on Sunday and I wondered how it would affect our Festival Service. Well, there were a number who could not make it but quite a number of guests joined us and the attendance was excellent under the circumstances. I only hope everyone got home safely (I have heard reports of nightmare journeys home).  The children’s nativity was, of course, the highlight of the service though the singing group was also excellent. Pictures of the nativity below (courtesy of Anna Wright– thanks Anna!):

The song of Mary

The Bible readings for today are: Psalm 124; Malachi 2.1–16; Luke 1.46–56.

And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
(Luke 1.46–55, the Magnificat)

What more can you say?

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