Made a start on your shopping list yet? Or maybe you’ve got it all sewn up. Festivities here we come! But there may still be something missing. And that seemingly insignificant thing could just be the most important thing of all. A Scottish minister was walking across George Square in Glasgow on Christmas Eve. On the north side of the square was a large nativity scene, with life size stable, Mary and Joseph and the baby in a manger, as well as various shepherds and wise men. And standing nearby were a couple of police officers. ‘Guarding the manger?’ the minister asked with a friendly smile. ‘Well yes,’ replied one of the officers, ‘we are actually. You see last year the baby Jesus was stolen!’ And the minister immediately recognised this as a picture of what’s wrong with Christmas for so many of us. There’s loads of good cheer, mulled wine, mince pies, flashing lights and office parties, but the child at the heart of the celebration, the one it’s all about has been stolen from the midst of our festivities. And all that’s left is an empty excuse for a knees up, instead of a reality which can truly warm up any heart with peace and joy.
So let me invite you to come and find the missing Christ! Here at ABC we have a packed programme of Advent and Christmas events over the next few weeks, all giving an opportunity to discover the One who is the true heart of Christmas.
On Saturday 10th December at 10.30am we will be carol singing with St Nicholas Church at the Mid Kent Shopping Centre.
On Sunday 11th there’ll be an Advent Nativity Service at 10.30am with sketches from our children and young people.
And at 3pm that day we are sharing in a live ‘Farm Nativity’ at the museum of Kent Life. Do come and join us for a moving celebration of the Christmas story (normal charges may apply)
On Saturday 17th December we’ll be carol singing with St Nic’s again (10.30am) at the Mid Kent Shopping Centre, and on Sunday 18th December we have a Christmas Café Church (an informal service for all the family) from 10.30am
On Saturday 24th December (Christmas Eve) at 6pm we have a candlelit carol service.
And on Christmas Day we have a family service from 10am.
Don’t miss out on the true heart of Christmas. Come and find the one who truly is the life and soul of the celebration. Have a good Christmas!
Just to let everyone know that our Ladies evening has been postponed from Saturday evening until further notice. Sorry for the inconvenience.
We had a wonderful time at Oak Hall for our Saturday Awayday this year. The views were stunning, the staff incredibly helpful, and the bookroom was a spiritual oasis for us poor Maidstonites, now living in the desert with regard to Christian bookshops. The food was great (it was worth sitting near our speaker, Chris Knott, who had sufficient authority to commandeer extra helpings of the pudding from other tables!). We were also very grateful to Richard and Blackaby who did a fantastic job looking after our kids.
Chris was speaking on ‘Fanning the Flame: Reinvigorating our Spiritual Lives.’ In the morning he spoke on Breathe in’ from Ezekiel 37. He spoke of the poor state God’s people were in in exile, and then of Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones. The prophet is commanded to preach to the bones, the word of God in the Spirit’s power bringing them back to life, a vast army. This word was not just for them, but for us. The Life of God in the soul of man – God’s purpose for us now. Can these dry bones live? Yes, if God is involved. The Spirit’s presence is a gamechanger. Time and again God has confounded the pessimist and taken the initiative to revive his people. Be captivated by the word of God, gaze on the Lord’s beauty. Fan the flame. Don’t let discouragement overwhelm you. Sometimes the valley of death can be a great place of hope. When things are like that we cry out to God in a way we don’t at other times. Call out to God in prayer. Ask the King of Kings to revive us now by His Spirit.
After lunch, Chris spoke on ‘Breathe out’ from John 15:1-16. Does God save us to wait for heaven, or does He want us to be fruitful? We need to breathe out what God has breathed into us – the Spirit of Christ in us reflected outward in service. We need to remain connected in the vine, otherwise we will be isolated from the lifegiver and fail to produce a harvest. If we are to live fruitful lives we can only do so in connection with Christ. In Him we receive four gifts (1) Joy. God is no despot but a God of joy. Joy not the same as earthly pleasure. Real joy is for those who know God. It starts in the heart of God, and is found in His inner strength and love for us. Thus it can be known even in the midst of trials. Sometimes we have to fight for joy. It needs to be mined like precious jewels. But it should be a hallmark of those connected to the vine. (2) Love. ‘love each other as I have loved you.’ Not just theory, Jesus is on the way to the cross. There is deep and wonderful love for us in the heart of God. And we are called to love one another. We may find some hard to love, but God has given us the ability to love with His love. We can’t do it, but He can. We need to turn our lives over to the lover of our souls. (3) friendship. We move from being servants to friends, given an understanding of God’s purposes in the world. Jesus gave Himself for us, His friendship demonstrated in sacrificial love. Whatever happens, God is my friend, and that reality should lead to fruitfulness in our lives. (4) election – God chose us, we are chosen to bear fruit. Puts His purposes on our hearts. Be faithful in the small things, and you may be entrusted with greater things. Stay connected and we will reflect Christ’s glory. There is always enough life and power if we remain connected. And if we do, the Father will give us all we ask, because our heart will reflect all He desires.
All in all a fabulous feast for all those who attended!
Image courtesy of Praisaeng at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
We look forward to another CAFÉ Church on Sunday 6th November, when our Youth Team will be taking the above theme, and remembering that ‘God looks at the heart.’ Fun and Fellowship for all!
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
We look forward to a Barn dance at ABC on the evening of Saturday October 29th 7.00 – 9.30 pm. All welcome. There will be a light buffet. Come and have some fun and invite a friend along. Please note – tickets are: children £2, adults £5. Come and have some fun, ask a friend. Contact Sue Smith or ring the church for tickets and information.
Image courtesy of xedos4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
We look forward to the ABC Church Awayday at Oak Hall, Otford Manor, on Saturday 22nd October 2016 with Chris Knott, on ‘Fanning the Flame: Reinvigorating our Spiritual Lives’. Chris is excited to be speaking from Ezekiel 37:4-14 ‘Breathe in!’ and John 15:5-11 ‘Breathe out!’ We are also very grateful to Richard and Annabelle Blackaby who will be helping us with the children’s teaching.
Image courtesy of digidreamgraphix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
We are so grateful to everyone for their generous pledges of income to support all the necessary work on our buildings, and above all to our faithful God for His wonderful provision. Exciting times!
Thanks to everyone who brought food items for our Harvest display & collection as part of our Harvest Service on Sunday 9th October. This was a great opportunity to express our gratitude to God for all the good things we have received from Him, and to share our blessings with those who have been less fortunate. Martyn spoke from Psalm 65, a great Hymn of Harvest PRAISE to God our Redeemer, our Creator and our Provider, and we enjoyed quizzes, clips and drama, as well as singing some great Harvest songs. (Items collected were later passed to Maidstone Christian Care to be used in the local homeless ministry)
Photo by Martin Webster
Image courtesy of antpkr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Just to let everyone know that Table Tennis restarts at ABC on Monday 12th Sept, at 7-8pm for children. Anyone who would like to join should contact Gary on 01622 764866 first (to see if we have any spaces). Adult Table Tennis from 8pm is a social club open to all.
Please also note that FUSION for young people restarts on Sunday 11th Sept at 7.30pm
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
CAFE CHURCH is back, and ready to go on Sunday 11th September from 10.30am at ABC. CAFE Church is an informal style of church service, designed to make everyone feel welcome, with food, fun, clips or drama, games, quizzes, craft activities as well as worship and Bible teaching on a theme which affects us all. Everyone welcome. See you there!