Dear friends at Christchurch,
Warm and sincere Christian greetings.

Let me begin by wishing you all a very happy and meaningful Christmas and a blessed and peaceful 2022. I always feel a little guilty about the fact that I cannot send a personal Christmas card greeting to each one of the households in the four Churches I serve – but nevertheless, please be assured of my love and prayers for you during this special season of expectation and celebration. I look forward to sharing special Advent and Christmas services and blessings with you.

We do have some wonderful times of worship and fellowship to look forward to. These include an All-age Café Church in which children will be widely involved, a very warm and special Community Christingle service where the eyes of little ones will light up again, and a traditional Christmas Eve Lesson and Carols Service which will include Holy Communion. Dates and times for these services and others can be found in the Church diary in this Chronicle and on our website. What I would like to stress here is the importance of inviting friends, neighbours and family members to these services. There really is something for everyone. We need to discern who to invite to which service. Can you do this? Your invitation has the potential to change someone’s life forever.

There is nothing greater than discovering God’s incarnate love, and coming to know the living Christ and his peace and joy in a personal way.

Christchurch will also be involved in NOAL (Nativity on a lorry), Experience Christmas (with the schools), Christmas day worship, Carol singing, and lots of other seasonal activities within groups and gatherings at Christchurch. It’s a packed programme. Look out for our beautiful outdoor Christmas tree. And why not consider buying Christchurch a present in this season of giving and sharing?

At our most recent LYCIG discussion meeting held on the 13th November, about 18 of us were thinking about how we might strengthen our Church community and outlook in terms of invitation, welcome and hospitality. This really is important and something we can all play a part in. We can all offer personal invitations to people to join us at Christchurch for special events. We can all warmly welcome new people or those we have not seen for a long time but who arrive back to share with us. We can all stay for fellowship and refreshments that are being offered and play our part in building up a sense of caring community. Try not to dash off at the end of worship, but stay and engage with others when refreshments are available.

For many years I have used the illustration of a simple fork with its 4 prongs to remind Church members of 4 important areas of missional activity we can each be involved in. These are:

  • Prayer (praying for those with whom we want to share Christ’s love and invitation)
  • Friendship (seeking to build and maintain good friendships with those who do not know Christ)
  • Conversation (making sure we communicate regularly and share news with friends)
  • Invitation (taking every opportunity to invite contacts to special Church events and worship gatherings which we believe they will enjoy and lead them into an awareness of Jesus’s presence amongst us)

Each of the above impacts mission significantly. Let’s not miss opportunities to invite people to come to Christchurch at some point this Christmas. More often than not, people will respond positively to personal and thoughtful invitations. Don’t ever assume that people will just say “No!”. There is more openness to the good news of Jesus than we might think, and Christmas is a time when people are willing to consider the Christ in Christmas. If you have not already been able to collect a LYCIG prayer card – please ask for one. We have many in the vestibule area. The cards enable you to use the LYCIG prayer for growth regularly at home. As we move nearer, and then into 2022, there will be 7 areas of Church life that we will be particularly seeking to develop, strengthen and perhaps expand. Leadership will be needed in these areas. They are:

  • Prayer @ Christchurch
  • Evangelism and discipleship @ Christchurch
  • Welcome, fellowship, hospitality and invitation @ Christchurch
  • Pastoral Care @ Christchurch
  • Communication @ Christchurch and on behalf of Christchurch.
  • Mission and Community Outreach by Christchurch
  • Children and Youth work @ Christchurch.

Please pray for these 7 areas of our life and witness. Use the LYCIG prayer regularly. Consider which of these 7 areas are of special interest to you, and where you might use your gifts. Pray for the steady development of vision for growth throughout 2022 as we continue and then conclude LYCIG. Pray for new people to join us. Pray for new leaders to emerge. Pray for further successful START courses and for new members to enthusiastically join our Church. Try to get to know and welcome all new people and play a part in helping to integrate them into the fellowship of the Christchurch family.

May the Word of God, the Word who became flesh and lived among us – Jesus Christ – God’s One and Only Son – fill you with joy, peace and hope this Christmas. Emmanuel – God is with us in Jesus. God who created our world has also visited our world in person – and even died for it. However, it is God’s advent, God’s arrival, which we celebrate at Christmas, and which we seek to share with the world for whom He lived, died and rose again.

God bless each of you.
With love and prayers. Peter

“The Word became flesh and moved into our neighbourhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind-glory, like Father,

like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish” John 1:14 from The Message by Eugene Peterson