Dear Church Family
This weekend we say goodbye to the Downes family, as they move to Oxford - for Greg soon starting as Director of Ministerial Training at Wycliffe Hall, for Tamie in a new GP surgery and for Anastasia and Trinity in a new school. They'll be greatly missed as they've touched many lives at The Belfrey and beyond. Please do join us on Saturday evening at 7pm for a send-off party (at Central Methodist Hall on St Saviourgate) and in church on Sunday as Greg speaks across the day with a special message on his final Sunday with us.
This Saturday (tomorrow) we're pleased to be hosting the national Fresh Expressions conference in St Michael le Belfrey Church from 10am to 4pm. G2 are doing much of the practical work for the conference which will include key-note speakers and practitioners from across the nation. There is still some space and tickets will be available on the door. For more details, click here. One of the speakers will be Ric Thorpe (Bishop of Islington) who'll be with us for the weekend - presiding at Sunday's 9am congregation and praying for Greg at the rest of our services.
The following weekend is the start of Advent. For many of us that's the official start of Christmas preparations! To mark the start of Advent, services in St Michael le Belfrey Church will be different. At our 9am congregation we'll begin with breakfast with the service beginning around 9.45am. There'll be no XI (at 11am) as instead we'll gather as it goes dark at 4pm for Christingle, where we use oranges, sweets and candles to remember Jesus coming as light of the world. The6 (at 6pm!) will still meet but also with an Advent flavour. So please note these changes.
May I urge us to use Advent well. There are all sorts of ways we can do that, one of which is to make some space to do something practical each day. To encourage followers of Jesus in this, the Bible Society have produced their 'Advent Challenge', which involves doing one of three daily challenges. Here's a couple of examples from last year:
DAY 17 - Challenge 1: write a list of 10 things you're thankful for
Challenge 2: tell someone what they mean to you
Challenge 3: thank someone you tend to take for granted
DAY 21: Challenge 1: invite neighbours over for mince pies
Challenge 2: invite someone lonely over - or take them a cake
Challenge 3: commit to getting together with friends to chat about the Bible in the year ahead
My family and I are going to take up the Advent Challenge, and I know a number of others in church are too. Why not sign up online here, and give it a go, and make Advent special?
Finally, you'll recall that in last week's Friday Message I shared the heart of a powerful message Luis Palau had recently given (from John 14:12-15) where he encouraged us to:
- dream great dreams (v12)
- pray great prayers (v13)
- obey great commands (v15)
This week I've encouraged the church staff, those at Dynamic Prayer early on Tuesday morning and our Belfrey Group last night to apply these three things - to their lives, their families, their church, city and region. May I encourage you to do the same. As the Lord pours our his Spirit afresh in our day, he's inviting us to join in his work and see lives transformed. How privileged we are.