Minister’s Letter December 2013

Dear friends,

I am writing my Advent letter to you on the on the Eurostar as I return to Brussels part way through my study leave programme. I attended a Conference with other clergy, most from Anglican or independent churches (what they call ‘free churches’ south of the border, but the term means something else in Scotland). I am grateful for the warm fellowship that I shared with new friends, each of us desiring to develop skills to improve our preaching. The participants and organisers of the Proclamation Trust Conference showed a genuine interest in the work that God is doing among the Anglophone congregations in Brussels.  Many conversations began with the question “where are you from?” and the reply ‘I am from the Church of Scotland in Brussels’ usually led to the supplementary question ‘Why is there a Church of Scotland in Brussels…?’

For most of years of my ministry I have compared the season of Advent and Christmas to the arrival of a 40 tonne lorry that has picked up speed and is coming towards me as I stand in the middle of a crossing.  But perhaps I should stop being anxious about Advent, and the many preparations for this special season? Just as God’s faithfulness can be seen in the lives of the many vibrant congregations in Brussels, so my Father in heaven has been faithful to me in the past- providing new ways for me to explain his ancient truths. Last year it was through selected readings from the prophet Isaiah. This year’s advent theme is Dr Luke’s Advent Calendar and we will consider the opening chapters of Luke’s gospel.

What do we have to look forward to over the season of Advent?

Firstly as a Church family, we can look forward to the coming of our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ. As a church we are on an advent journey together; journeys are one of Dr Luke’s important themes and I like to think that we are filled with hope from the gospel message, like the companions on the road to Emmaus our hearts ‘burning within us’ [Lk 24:32].

Next, we will have the opportunity to welcome strangers into our church. What a wonderful occasion to invite family, neighbours or friends to the Nativity Service, the Nine Lessons and Carols Service or another special service at Christmastime. Even today, many people want to hear about the story of Jesus’ birth and we should give thanks for the God-given possibility of sharing with them Luke’s message of joy.

Thirdly, with Christmas there comes the opportunity to be generous to those in need. On Christmas Day we normally organise a retiring offering for the Borderline charity, which provides shelter to homeless Scots in London. Furthermore, Norbert Boukero, one of our 20s-30s group, will coordinate a distribution of food and goods to those in dire need in Brussels. Why not ask Norbert about ways that you can help on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve?

Finally, Christmas offers the possibility to offer friendship and company to those who are lonely. If you know someone who might be on their own at Christmas- why not invite them to eat some nourishing food and enjoy the fellowship of your family at this time of the year?

May you know the Lord’s grace and peace in the coming weeks

Your minister and friend,