The season of Advent begins tomorrow (Sunday 28 November). For the churches that observe it, the season is one of hope, expectancy and waiting as Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas. At Didsbury Baptist Church we will concentrate on Advent themes and light candles on the Advent Wreath Sunday by Sunday. Many of us will also participate in a daily Bible-reading scheme. As we read, we will pray, listen and open our hearts to what the Spirit may be saying to us. On Wednesday evenings we will meet together to discuss what we are learning, hear Advent music and sing some Advent songs, and pray for each other and for the world. The season offers an opportunity to stop and be quiet, to resist some of the frenzied activity associated with the run up to Christmas and listen for the voice of God.

You can join us in our Advent journey here. Each day of Advent, I will upload the Bible readings for the day with a short reflection. (If you would like to see the readings in advance, download them here.) I invite comments and responses of your own. You can leave these in the comments area below each post. I hope other members of the Church might provide some of the articles and perhaps some artistic responses to the daily readings along the way.

Daily Advent reflections can be found on other Internet sites too; see, for example, hopefulimagination.

Photos from our church weekend away

The first photos from our weekend away are in. These are by Anna and feature  Saturday evening’s home-made entertainment, earth hour and a few photos of (not quite) the whole group (can you work out who is missing? There is the photographer a certain one who arrived too late to get in the pic and someone who seems to be hiding behind Mavis). Enjoy!

Church Weekend Away

Many of us from DBC spent last weekend at Thornleigh Hotel in Grange over Sands where we held a very enjoyable Church Weekend Away. The venue was excellent. About forty five of us went and, as far as I am aware, everyone had a great time. We had opportunity to worship, learn and pray together and time to socialize and just be together. The photo below shows most of the group though one of our number missed the photo op. and one was serving as photographer. Other than that, most of the groups is pictured below. Other photos will follow (if you have any send them to me and I’ll include them).

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!

Christmas all-age festival service

If you are not already worshiping elsewhere and you are near Didsbury tomorrow (Sunday), why not come and join us for our Christmas all-age festival service? We will light Advent candles, watch a children’s nativity play, sing some carols, take up an offering of goods for Lifeshare, listen to readings from the Bible and pray together. Come as you are and worship with us – all are welcome. The service begins at 10.30 a.m. and should last for about an hour. There will be tea and coffee afterwards.

The Season of Advent

The Advent season begins today. We will celebrate this at Didsbury Baptist Church by lighting advent candles, by giving to  Christian Aid and praying for its work on behalf of the world’s poor, and by reflecting on the coming of Christ as light into darkness. As we await Christmas, we await the full and perfect coming of God’s reign and we ask how we might now live so as to make a difference for good in the world today.

We will pick up on Advent themes during our Sunday morning worship and we will hold three Wednesday evening gatherings on the 2nd, 9th and 16th December. We will serve tea and coffee at 7.30 for a formal beginning at 8. In the first of the sessions, I will introduce the Gospel of Luke (this year’s lectionary Gospel). Next week Brian Haymes will address the theme, On Being the Church, Beginning with God and on the 16th Kyle Gingerich Hiebert will help us to think about our spending at Christmas time. If you are in the Manchester area, you would be very welcome to join us.

I hope that during Advent many of us at DBC will read the Bible together by using the readings of the Common Worship Morning Prayer Lectionary. I invite others who visit this website to read with us. I will post the readings here every weekday morning of Advent with a few of my thoughts on the readings. Perhaps you would read the same passages and offer your thoughts by adding your comments to the daily post. I will start tomorrow and I look forward to hearing from you.

An introductory course to Christian faith

FMpic01_450Have you ever wondered if the Christian faith is for you? On Sunday we are a starting an introductory course to Christian faith. It will meet in our home over the next 6 weeks. The group will set its own agenda but currently we plan to discuss: Belief in God, We need God in our lives, The life and ministry of Jesus, The death and resurrection of Jesus, The Holy Spirit, and Becoming a Christian. You are welcome to join us. For further details please call 0161 438 2927.

Harvest / Sukkot


mobile-phone photo, Anna Wright

Last Sunday we held an all-age harvest celebration for morning worship. Truth is, harvest festivals are not what they used to be and in urban environments they can be distinctly out of place. Still, with issues of food production and food security high on the agenda these days, harvest provides all kinds of possibilities for worship and reflection.

On Sunday, I combined Christian harvest themes with some of those of the Jewish (and biblical) festival of Sukkot. The date of our harvest celebrations does not always coincide with the Jewish holiday but this year it did. Our Jewish neighbours are celebrating Sukkot right now, so I drew on some of the themes that form the basis of both celebrations.

We built a (very non-kosher) sukkah inside the sanctuary. (I know, the whole point is to build sukkot outside but this was the only way I could introduce the theme to a Christian group meeting indoors.) Then we brought our harvest gifts and displayed them in the sukkah.  The gifts, of course, are then donated to local charities. We also took up our offering for the Seeds of Hope harvest appeal for the work of BMS World Mission.

Christians recount that it was during the Festival of Sukkot that Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8.12).

If you would like to learn more about Sukkot there is plenty of information on the net. You might try Hebrew for Christians, Judaism 101 or, a favourite of mine, Rachel Barenblat’s blog — the Velveteen Rabbi.

House-groups are back

coffeecupnbacklrOur house-groups return after their summer break this week. The Tuesday evening group, Cakes, Coffee and Colossians began last night. It meets at Brian’s and Jenny’s and, over the next few weeks, will study the letter of Paul to the Colossians as those who are trying to live Christianly in a society with other loyalties.

The Wednesday Group begins tonight at 7.30 and will meet in the manse. Tonight, we will support and pray for each other and discuss what we might study in the weeks ahead. Please feel free to join a group. For further details, please drop me a line or give me a call.

Marion Scott Playgroup Outdoor Play Area

playareawork01lrAfter years of hoping and months of planning the builders are on site and so far are doing a fantastic job. With a new doorway children will be able to move freely from inside to outside. It should all be done in another week.

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