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Baptist Buzz

Welcome to the meetings of Stonehaven Baptist Church!

Sunday services at Carronhill School, 11.00AM

Prayer meetings Thursday evenings, at the church office, 6 Arbuthnott Place, 7.30PM

Mainly Music (parents and toddlers) Friday afternoons, at St Bridgets’s Hall, 1.30-2.45 PM

The Zone (Youth Group) at Carronhill School, Friday evenings, 7.15-8.30 PM

On Sundays we are learning about prayer, and trusting God. Our pastor Nathan is not focusing on a meditation technique or a system, but on our understanding of who it is we pray to. What is God like?

This week we learned about God’s sovereignty: God controls absolutely everything. That is why we are to pray to him alone, we are dependent on him, and he is able to answer our prayers. However we rather like to think that we are in control ourselves and be on top of things (or people) , in charge of our own lives. Perhaps that is why change is often resisted: it upsets the applecart. But in reality we are not in control, and this becomes clear when (even little) little things go wrong. Daniel, brought up in the Jewish faith in Israel, was taken into exile, into the pagan court of Nebuchadnezzar.

He was probably just 16 or 17 year old. He was not in control of his own life anymore, but he knew God was! He trusted and obeyed his God, as he refused to eat the food which was dedicated to idols. He refused to worship the king as God and kept regularly praying to the true God, with his window open towards Jerusalem. Human pride, plots, power and politics put Daniel in life great danger- he landed in a den of lions! King Nebuchadnezzar (being tricked by his advisors) had to realize he was not in control of the situation. He had a sleepless night, after which he ran to the den and asked Daniel if his God had been able to save him. He had! He is the king of kings! God is sovereign.

However this also means we have to pray humbly, not assuming we can take over his control, but that we trust his wisdom. God does not always save out of danger. In battle some soldiers may survive, and others not. We cannot know why God ordained things but he tells us we are to trust and obey him and call upon him for help : the almighty God who we may call abba, father, dad… because of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf.

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News from St James –
Candlemas 2016

Anne conducted the early Communion from the Reserved Sacrament, and Peter Smart, Warden of Readers, came to conduct the 10.30 service. In the intimations, Anne congratulated all who were in any way involved in the Burns Supper on Saturday – which was a roaring success! She reminded the congregation of the forthcoming Book Browse on Saturday, 6th February. We have a visiting celebrant and preacher next Sunday, 7th February – the Very Rev Francis Bridger, Dean of the diocese.

Anne delivered the address which, not surprisingly, was about the history and meaning of the use of candles in worship – this being Candlemas, also known as the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. She began by drawing the attention of the congregation to two important lights in our church: the sanctuary light in the Lady Chapel and the one next to the tabernacle behind the altar. These are reminders of the perpetual light that burned in the Temple in Jerusalem outside the Holy of Holies, symbolising the presence of God – while for us it is a sign that the Holy Sacrament is revered in this place.

The Gospel reading for the day (Luke 2.22-40) describes the occasion when Mary and Joseph took the child Jesus to the Temple to ‘present him to the Lord’ and to offer a sacrifice of a pair of doves for his redemption. But instead of being greeted by a priest, the couple were met by first an Old Man, Simeon and then an even older woman prophet named Anna – and the baby Jesus was recognised by both these venerable souls as the Messiah. In Eastern churches this festival is known as ‘The Meeting’.

Our celebration focuses on the symbolism of candles and of light. Simeon’s song, the Nunc Dimittis, is traditionally sung at evensong, and in Western Churches this is the opportunity to commemorate Christ as ‘The Light of the World’. In that glorious evening hymn, originally written in the third century to accompany the gospel book flanked by two torch-bearers we have: ‘Hail gladdening light, of his pure glory poured.’ The hymn would be sung as our post-Communion hymn today.

In the ancient world light was a holy thing, and in Genesis, we read how Light was the first Act of Creation, when God said ‘Let there be light’. And in the New Testament, in the Gospel of John, we read how Jesus has now been seen as the first act in the new creation. How Jesus is the pre-existent Word which was the source of the light that has been brought to mankind, and ‘the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out’.

In John’s first Epistle, he takes up the theme that ‘God is light and in him there is no darkness at all…if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, …when we live in the light we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin.’

However, Anne recognised that for many people there seems to be a great sense of darkness enveloping us – we become afraid for our future and for the future of our children. Maybe it is materialism – we become caught up in the rat race. We stop, from time to time and say – this is not the way it is supposed to be.

If only we let ourselves become enveloped in the glory of God, sunbathe in the shining light of his presence, then the fellowship of the church would begin here and fill our hearts with an unquenchable fire that would empower us to go forth in the holy service to which we are all called. And should we meet with doubt and sorrow, and fear the arrow that flies by day and the terror that stalks at night – then we turn to the light. In the words of a modern hymn ‘Lord I come to your awesome presence, from the shadows into your radiance, by the blood I may enter your brightness.’

Anne paused to think for a moment about this image and referred to Revelation, ‘they took their garments and washed them in the blood of the lamb’ – Mysterious. Blood that cleanses? Yes, this is the blood that was shed for us, so that we need never again make blood sacrifices, our garments may never again need to be stained with the blood of animal sacrifices.

Once again, we turn to the reason why Joseph and Mary brought the child Jesus to the Temple. It was to offer blood sacrifice to redeem the firstborn. But now we have redemption from the ultimate sacrifice on the cross – the ‘ one oblation of himself once offered’. And both Anna and Simeon recognised in this three-month child the redemption of the people of Israel and of the world.

Anne concluded by reading the last verse of Shine, Jesus, shine – and promised to include this in her hymn selection for her All Age Service shortly.