Happy New Year! What an extraordinary Christmas, I hope that you’re refreshed.
The nativity story this year somehow has had an added poignancy. We went into our Christmas week of services sharing a communal sadness, that at the last minute our plans to see family and friends had been scuppered. Christmas was for most people different. There had to be a determined effort to celebrate in a new way; and underneath the traditional tinsel and carols were the hard facts of the nativity story. Mary would have been ostracised by her parents, her betrothed and her community when her pregnancy began to show. No-one would have believed her. Yet, she continued with a single-minded obedience to the God she believed in. Then, soon after the birth, she would travel with Joseph to Egypt. How difficult faith must have been then - how challenged. Nevertheless, she and Joseph successfully reared Jesus the Son of God, and the rest - for those of Faith - is history.
As Paul writes in Ephesians:
“God’s intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made know to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purposes which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”(Eph 3: 10-12)
The reason why this is authentic is because, for many of us, the changed Christmas plans, anxiety and the latest lockdown are challenges to our faith and to the hope we believe in. The significance of the early visitors to the manger - the shepherds and wise men - is that Jesus arrives with salvation for all. He reveals the eternal purposes of God.
As we grapple with the consequences of lockdown on our lives, alongside are the concerns about our departure from Europe, the leadership of this country and international affairs. There is a continual barrage of news headlines from which we cannot escape. As I write this, we have just witnessed the extraordinary scenes on Capitol Hill in Washington. There is such a need for God’s guidance for today’s ‘wise men’.
So what are we doing now? How do we proclaim the hope that we have? Firstly, by being honest with ourselves and each other; Jesus is showing the way. For Jesus, psalms were his prayer book, and many of the psalms are laments. Just as Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb, so we can now lament with God about what is going on. That, too, is authentic. And this honesty with each other will lead us to reflect on the hope that we have – a hope for all circumstances.
The Chaplaincy community is here for every member of our University staff and student – we assure everyone of our support, presence and prayer. We will help University keep our community in touch.
On a practical note:
- We are keeping the Chaplaincy open for private prayer, rest and the use of the piano.
- The study spaces may be booked as before using https://bathunichaplaincy.skedda.com
- We will work with estates, security and catering to be a caring presence on campus.
- We will continue to say morning prayer at 8.30am on Zoom – if you would like to join please email email@example.com
- The audio recording will be posted on Facebook at 9am. We will use Facebook, zoom and emails to keep in touch.
- The Chaplaincy team – Karen Turner, Mother Sarah, David Pattie, Tim Norton and Carol Hussey (Liturgy Assistant) will work together to provide this continuity.
- There will be regular updates on Facebook including a verse on Monday, occasional videos and a Chaplain’s blog on Thursday.
Please help us build and maintain the network of care in the name of Chaplaincy. We believe the foundation stones of our Christian witness should be:
- A narrative of seeking unity
- A practice of compassion
- A habit of prayer