As we near the end of our first term with you, we have much to give thanks for from these last few months, and much to look forward to with Christmas approaching.
Just on Sundays, we have been encouraged in our morning services to find our identity and security in Jesus, reflecting on how this should impact all our different relationships. In the evenings, we have been learning from Jesus himself, through the pages of Luke's gospel, as he calls us to a radical discipleship. And now, as Advent begins, we will be hearing how God wants us to live as we wait and prepare for his coming.
Through our Alpha course, our half-term Children's Activity Days, and the many events we have throughout each week where we connect with our community, there have been many opportunities to simply be Jesus’ hands and feet with people.
Christmas, though, gives a much more intentional opportunity to proclaim the greatest news there is to our community, through our events and services taking place this month. Pray, as Paul tells us at the end of his letter to the Ephesians, that we "may declare the gospel without fear" at all our events. Pray about who you will invite to come with you to our services. And then use our Christmas services card as a way to personally invite friends, family and colleagues to hear the Christmas message of Jesus.
Looking ahead to next term, we will be doing something different from previous years on Sundays in January. On the first Sunday of the New Year, we will still all gather together for one United Service, but then for the next five weeks, as adults, we will be exploring together 'Who are we?' as God's church here in Cromer. This gives us an opportunity to re-visit our Purpose Statement, making sure we are all clear on why we exist as a church and what this looks like for us in 2015 (rather than in 2006 when it was first put together). I want, personally, to preach to the whole church, which means that on these five Sunday mornings we will just have a 9.00 a.m. service and one 10.30 a.m. service - where people from both our 10.30 congregations (Parish Church and St Martin's) will join together in the Parish Church for worship. Our evening service will follow the same theme as the morning, but give more space to explore each topic. Please make it a priority to be at church on these five Sundays.
Alongside this Sunday teaching series, and continuing through the Spring, we will begin a process of discerning a new vision, as together we seek where God is calling us to go as a church in the future, particularly with the focus of mission. While the Staff, Ministry Team and PCC will drive much of this process, we will all be involved through prayer, discussion and reflection and, in January, we will explain how this will work. All in all, next term will be an exciting time!
On a very practical point, for those who have been in the church for a while, we will not be having a 'motto text' for 2016 due to this task of discerning a new direction (out of which God may lay on our hearts a Bible verse or verses that underpin our identity and mission). Neither will we be having a Gift Day at the end of November 2015, as the time to give most generously will be with a clear vision in place for the future.
In the meantime, we look forward to continuing to meet many of you at our Open House afternoons, and we pray that this Christmas will be a time of great joy for us all as we celebrate God's greatest gift to us - the person of Jesus Christ.
Have a very Happy Christmas!
James and Katie