Dear Friends,

It has been a habit of mine every couple of years to buy an Advent book to reflect on some of the key themes of this Holy Season through Bible readings and reflections. Just as I will endeavour to be as prepared as I can for the season of Christmas by buying gifts and exchanging cards and all those other traditions that are so important to us, it is important to prepare ourselves spiritually for the season also.

This year I bought the Archbishop of York’s Book on Advent which will follow through the theme of waking up. Advent is a season that calls us to be alert and awake to Christ’s coming and I thought we might borrow from this idea in our own Advent services.

These are short thirty minute services on Thursday evenings and they call us aside from all the busyness of our preparations to a more reflective place.

I’m delighted that 3 parishioners will be sharing a little with us about different ways in which we might be encouraged to wake up to different dimensions of life.

In our first service on Thursday 5th December, Mrs Elizabeth Walker will be sharing on the theme of Wake up to Mission. Last Summer Liz embarked on an exciting mission trip to Peru to assist at an orphanage run by a friend of hers from St.Andrew’s Presbyterian church. It was a life-changing experience and so it will be good to hear her reflection upon it.

On Thursday 12th December, Mr Michael Bailey will be sharing on the theme Wake up to Mental Health. Michael is an addiction counsellor and has a passion to communicate how very important this subject is as
daily life is increasingly complex and demanding and places us under considerable pressure at times.

On Thursday 19th December, Miss Patricia Stewart will share on the theme Wake up to Physical Health. With her background in physical education and zest and enthusiasm for life, Patricia will be very well equipped to encourage us in practical ways to look after our physical health.

We hope that you will be able to come along and enjoy some or all of these Thursday evenings as well as the many special services of the Christmas season from Advent carol services to the Festival of 9 Lessons and Carols, from the first Communion of Christmas on Christmas Eve to a Christmas Carols Songs of Praise on the Sunday after Christmas and our special services on Christmas Day.

We hope that all of these special services will indeed wake us up afresh to the wonder of the birth of the Son of God, that we will indeed see afresh the reason for the Season. It would be lovely to see you as we share in these special celebrations together.

We hope, too, as many as possible will be able to come along and support Raymond as he begins his ministry in St.John’s, Lurgan on
10th December at 8pm. Please keep him in your prayers as he begins this next stage of his ministry and adjusts to new surroundings. We are very grateful to Raymond for all he has done in the parish over these past 3 years and wish him every blessing for the future.

We are always conscious at this time of year that this season can be particularly difficult and painful for those going through difficult times or who have recently lost loved ones. Please be mindful of all you know who are going through hard days and pray for them and call in. Remember as you do so you bring the presence of Jesus with you as he dwells within you through His Spirit generously bestowed upon us at our baptism and the way God equips us to serve Him and share His love.

Vicky, Lucy and Conor join me in wishing everyone a Happy and Blessed Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

With best wishes,
Yours sincerely

Jonathan Pierce (Rector)

Telephone 02890 793822