Light of the Nations

John the Baptist was a powerful and challenging preacher – a prophet like the prophets of the Old Testament. He called the people to repent of their sins and receive baptism in the River Jordan – the same river that the people of Israel crossed when they entered the Promised Land. But when Jesus came for baptism, John demurred, knowing that Jesus had no need to repent and no sins to be forgiven. Jesus replied, ‘Let us do all that righteousness demands.’ Jesus would teach the people a new understanding of ‘righteousness.’ For disciples of Christ, to be righteous means to accept God’s love and mercy, symbolised by the water of baptism; to know ourselves to be forgiven sinners; to live the commandments of love of God and love of neighbour. Anyone who lives righteousness in this way, Peter says, is acceptable to God. Jesus’ mission is prefigured in Isaiah’s prophecy of God’s servant, who brings true justice to the nations. On the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we celebrate the beginning of Jesus’ mission to reveal God’s mercy to all the nations of the world.

A Light for all Nations

The wise men, or Magi, had travelled from a distant country in the East. They were astrologers, but somehow their study of the stars led them to seek the infant King of the Jews. They found the King they were looking for, not in Herod’s palace in Jerusalem, but in the poor family of Mary and Joseph.

On the feast of the Epiphany – a word which means ‘revealing’ or ‘manifestation’ – the Saviour begins to become known to all the nations as a light of hope, shining in the darkness of our world. The Magi were pagans, but they were sincere seekers after truth. They brought costly gifts: gold for a king, incense for the Son of God, myrrh symbolising Jesus’ suffering and death. The Magi were delighted to recognise and worship Christ, while Herod and his courtiers were ‘perturbed’ at the thought of another King arising in Israel. As we know, Herod did not hesitate to commit murder to protect his position. In contrast, the Magi show us an example of true discipleship: ready to recognise Christ, wherever we find him, and ready to bring the most precious gifts that we have to honour him.

Which Parish Charities, April 2020 to March 2021?

Each year, the proceeds from tea and coffee after Mass, the sale of refreshments at the Miner’s Gala and other parish events are divided between one international and one local charity. Currently these are St Cuthbert’s Hospice in Durham and the Adhanur Helping Hands orphanages and education project in India. The latter is also supported by Durham Martyrs Parish. In January 2020 we decide which two charities should be supported during the next financial year. Please offer some suggestions using the form in the narthex. You can opt to keep either or both of the current charities, or go for different ideas. Charities need to be UK registered and information about them needs to be provided to Father Andrew or the Parish Secretary.

Durham Churches Together New Year’s Eve Service

Gather in the Market Place for the procession to Durham Cathedral, leaving at 6.15pm (bring your own lantern.) The candlelit service begins in the Cathedral at 6.30pm. The brief Address will be given by the Revd John Squares, Superintendent Minister at Elvet Methodist Church. Everyone is very welcome.

Singing rehearsals for the service will be in the Cathedral prior to the service (around 5:30pm). We are singing John Rutter’s “The Lord bless you and keep you.” Copies of the music can be sent out ahead of time if you wish to see it. Anyone interested in singing should contact David Harris by email at d.m.harris108@gmail.com

God’s Dream

The Gospel tells us that Joseph was a ‘man of honour.’ No doubt he was steady, hard-working, faithful – a suitable husband for a devout young girl like Mary. Joseph probably dreamed of a peaceful life, building a home with Mary and raising a family together. His dream was turned upside down when Mary was found to be expecting a child. Joseph knew that the baby was not his. He must have felt terribly disappointed and betrayed. And then, another dream turns everything upside down again. The angel reveals to Joseph that the child will be born, not as a result of human infidelity, but of God’s saving plan. Joseph is asked to give up his own dream and, instead, to become part of God’s dream for the world. God’s plan is to send his Son into the world as ‘God-with-us;’ to reveal to humankind a love beyond our imagining, save us from our sin and open the way to eternal life. Joseph, like Mary, was told by the angel, ‘Do not be afraid.’ He set aside his doubts and fears, and trusted absolutely in God. As the Christmas story unfolds, we see how the Saviour comes into the world through the faithful obedience of Mary and Joseph, and how we too are called to put our trust in God.

Justice and Peace Refugee Project

Our parish collects biscuits and toilet rolls to help provide basic supplies to asylum seekers in the diocese. These are collected regularly, on the first Sunday of the month. If you would like to donate items please remember to bring them to Church next Sunday 5th January and place them under the bench in the narthex ready to be collected.

The centre is always very grateful for our supplies and with the holiday period coming up they would welcome an even bigger stock of things to draw from. Please give generously.

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