3rd December: Luke 3

03

Luke 3

Jess Piper

Jess is a pastoral worker at St Saviour’s Church, Oxton. In her spare time, she sings in the University of Chester choir, and is passionate about seeing communities of people grow in their knowledge and love of Jesus. She is married to Calum, and moved to Wallasey in July 2014
  ‘Christmas’ – what feelings come to mind when you think about the word ‘Christmas’? Well, for many there would be positive feelings; feelings of great joy, of great expectation, of great peace. But for others, the word might evoke panic, worry and distress. As we open our advent calendars, light our advent candles, countdown to Christmas, we become more aware of all the preparations we have to do, and all the time that we don’t seem to have to do them.
We can often be too busy, dashing around, trying to make sure that everything is ready, that we forget what the preparations are really all about.
Today’s chapter of Luke speaks of the expected coming of Jesus; a coming which is proclaimed by John the Baptist. John was Jesus’ cousin, born just a few months before him. His father Zechariah, (whom we read about yesterday) had burst into song when John was born; singing that John was the one called to make sure everyone was ready when the promised Saviour came. When he grew up, he did just that. John knew exactly who he was, and more importantly, what he was called to do. Therefore, John stands for us, as a figure of ‘waiting’ and of ‘preparation’.
At Christmas, many of the preparations we make are practical, material ones. We are always thinking about whether our decorations are bright enough, whether we’ve managed to buy all our presents in time, or whether we’ve left the turkey in the oven for the right amount of time. But the message of preparation that John proclaims here is one of repentance; of examining our lives, and making a U-turn where necessary.
John tells the crowds, in vs.11 to share what they have; he tells tax-collectors to collect no more than the amount prescribed to them (vs.12); and he tells soldiers not to use force or threat to get the things they want (vs.13). This was a disruptive message, a message that would’ve shocked the people who John was talking to at the time. And if John were speaking to us today, he’d be challenging us to not focus on the practical, material, outward-looking preparations, this Christmas, but the inner ones instead.
John’s message really was a message of preparation for the Lord’s coming. And we too are called to wait and to prepare for the coming of Christ, both for the first time at Christmas, and for the second time when he comes again in glory. Advent is a time that challenges us to grasp again that spirit of re-orientation, since it is that spirit that fully prepares us to meet Jesus when he comes. So this year, let us not worry about our decorations, our presents or our turkey, but instead let us focus on the real message of Christmas – that of love and of forgiveness.

 

2nd December: Luke 2

02

Luke 2

Alan Ward

Alan is rector of St. Hilary’s Church.
We have a friend who lives in the USA, whose birthday is on 25th December and so “shares” his birthday celebrations with Jesus of Nazareth. This seems strange to many people, but it reminds us that, although we don’t know the actual date of Jesus’ birth (v6-7), it’s certain that hundreds of babies would have been born on that day. Likewise, dozens of those babies may well have been dedicated at the temple on the same day as Jesus (v22), and many more children were keeping Passover in Jerusalem when Jesus was 12 years old (v41-42). So how do we know that this child was any different to the others? We only know because God told those involved then, and he tells us now. This is what we call “revelation”.
He had already told Mary and her family and relatives who this child was to be (see chapter 1). In chapter 2 he speaks through an angel, through an old man and through the child himself.
The angel tells the shepherds that the child will be a Saviour (the meaning of the name “Jesus”), the Messiah (God’s chosen King) and the Lord (a divine title) – this is great news and cause for rejoicing rather than fear (v10).
The old man, Simeon, tells the parents that this child will be the light of the whole world (v29-32), and that he will be the make or break of many in Israel (v34-35).
Then, in the famous of incident of the 12 year old being left behind in Jerusalem, the child Jesus gives his own first strong hint that his close relationship with God the Father takes priority over human family ties (v48-49) – a claim to be the Son of God (see 1:32).
This is how we know Jesus was unique: God told the witnesses at the time and he has told us through his word, the Scriptures.
The next question is: Do we know Jesus as our own Saviour, as Lord of our own lives? Does this Jesus cause us to put up defences or to open our hearts to him? Have we found, through faith in Jesus, a relationship with God like a child with a father?

1st December: Luke 1

 

01_thumb[6]

Luke 1

Calum Piper

Calum has been Curate at St. Hilary’s since July. He got married in the summer to Jess, and loves cycling especially along the seafront around the Wirral.
 As we begin our journey through Luke we are met by familiar characters; Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, the angel Gabriel and finally, very briefly, John the Baptist.
Zechariah served as a priest in the temple so he and his wife would have been familiar with prophesies of a Messiah for the Jewish people. Yet I’m sure they never imagined they would be playing a part in the most important story to ever be told.
Mary was a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, there was nothing particularly special about Mary, yet she becomes one of the most well know characters of scripture. Had Gabriel said to Mary that she would be played by millions of schoolgirls for centuries around the globe each Christmas, I think she would have found it even harder to believe what was taking place.
We are presented with some very ordinary people who God chooses to involve in extraordinary things that changed the world as they knew it.It’s very easy to feel like each we are nothing special, that we are all just ordinary, yet to God each of us is unique, each of us is important to him, and he has a role for each of us to play within his kingdom. Zechariah, when he was told he was to have a son didn’t believe and yet God still chose to use his family. Mary was troubled by the angels words and yet replied to God’s messenger “I am the Lord’s servant,” “May your word to me be fulfilled.”
Each day we have a choice, we can choose to live as ordinary people not expecting God to use us for anything significant, or we can choose to live as valued children of God expectant that God will use us. We are invited to repeat Mary’s words daily:
“I am the Lord’s servant,” “May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Advent Challenge

Adventwith Lukea4

Advent with Luke is a project St. Hilary’s is running to encourage people to read the bible more regularly. Advent is a season in the Christian year that gets overlooked by Christmas quite a lot but actually can provide an opportunity to enrich the life of every disciple which then also makes Christmas an even more special occasion.

Advent hasn’t always just been about preparing for Christmas but looking forward to Jesus’ return. So we want to encouraging you to prepare for Christmas and look forward to Jesus’ return by reading a chapter of Luke’s gospel each day from the 1st December to the 24th December.

We know that some find it difficult to enter into the discipline of regular bible reading and some find it difficult to understand some of what is being said. Recognising this, alongside encouraging people to read Luke throughout advent we are going to be producing a blog on our website giving a short reflection on part of the chapter reading of that day.

Join us as we travel towards Christmas together, learning more about Jesus through reading about him.