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Viewpoint from Revd Canon Nick Garrard 09/12/2022

NICK GARRARDRevd Canon Nick Garrard

Nick is Rector of the Rockland Benefice in the Bramerton Group (Bramerton, Rockland St Mary with Hellington, Surlingham, Claxton, Carleton St Peter, and Kirby Bedon with Whitlingham) and Bishop’s Officer for Christian Spirituality through the Creative Arts

Christmas is getting closer, and in our group of churches we’re preparing for the first clutch of carol services this weekend. After that, it’s carols almost all the way to December 25th. I say almost, because running alongside this we’re also keeping the season of Advent
dove leftThe Advent season has rich meanings too. It’s a time of looking forward to the light of Christmas, but also getting ready to meet God, whether at the end of our earthly lives or the end of time.  Advent Sunday marks the beginning of the Church’s calendar, a time for fresh starts. The Church of England, Catholic, Methodist, and some other worldwide Churches follow a pattern of Bible readings in a cycle that begins at Advent and takes three years to complete. This year we have opened the pages of Matthew’s Gospel again. Between now and next November, we will encounter Jesus mainly through Matthew’s perspective in our main Sunday service readings
The Gospel according to Matthew is the first book in the New Testament, written by a Jewish Christian over forty years after Jesus’ resurrection. He writes about Jesus as the Messiah, God’s anointed Son, who fulfils the Law of Moses.  For Matthew, Jesus is also ‘Emmanuel’, a Hebrew name meaning ‘God with us’. It’s a powerful statement to say that God is with his people, with us. It’s one thing to say that God is ‘for’ people, that he will support them, because we know that we can support good causes across the world without meeting people we’re trying to help or even leave home to do so. For God to be ‘with’ people, he must be alongside us in all the mess, risk, danger, insecurity, and discomfort that can come humanity’s way, and still be God. Matthew tells us that this happened through Jesus’s coming to Bethlehem and is still happening
Peek into his Gospel if you’d to find out more. Unless you like long lists of names, you may wish to skip the first seventeen verses. Read to the end of chapter three, and then go to the end of the gospel and read the last four verses. You can also read the bit in the middle, but you will have already got the message. Matthew says that Jesus came to be God with us. He ends by saying he is with us still. For me and many others, that’s a comforting and inspiring message as we look forward to Christmas again 

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