Thought for the week – from the Rev. David Jones
Advent begins this Sunday. Planning the Christmas services and all the other events in the life of the church leading up to this special season I made one big mistake. Last year Advent began on the last Sunday of November and I assumed incorrectly that it was the same this year. Later I realised that I had inadvertently added another Sunday to the season! With the programme in the printers and arrangement made I just had to live with my mistake. Subsequently we are a week ahead at Greenfield as far as Advent is concerned this year. The Christmas tree outside the chapel along with the window lights went up a week early. Some of the services such as our ‘Toy’ service we normally hold in Advent were held last week – It won’t happen again!
Then again, looking at the Christmas story things did not go exactly to plan. Mary and Joseph were engaged to be married. Joseph was in a quandary until the angel assured him that Mary had been chosen to give birth to a child who would bring joy, peace and salvation to a lost world. The shepherds had expected another predictable night but the angel’s message changed everything. The wise men from the east had travelled expecting to find the ‘King of the Jews’ in a royal palace but the star by-passed Jerusalem and led them to Bethlehem. Their intentions changed again when they were warned in a dream to avoid Herod and return home another way.
At first sight, all these changes display a chaotic mix of circumstances. Now in retrospect we see that God was working out His divine purposes when into a messy world God brought to us His Son to be our Saviour. So, when we get things wrong, be it hasty decision we have lived to regret or just some unwelcomed disillusionment with the world around us we are in good company. The kings followed a star, the shepherds rushed to Bethlehem and Mary and Joseph never lost faith as God’s grace. God’s leading brought them together to a cold and bare animal shelter where his glory was revealed and his purposes fulfilled. God invites us on this Advent journey to that same place where love, peace and forgiveness invaded the darkness and uncertainties of life.
John Newton was so right when he declared ‘twas grace that led me safe thus far and grace will lead me home’ Seems to me that extra week is a blessing after all!