December is the time when we prepare for Christmas. In Church it means decorating and
carol services. At home it means buying presents and sending cards; decorating and
preparing special food. We have parties, we make a point of visiting family and friends. So
much to do. So many mince pies. So little time.

Little wonder then that Advent is in danger of being swallowed up by the Christmas
preparations. And that is a pity, because Advent is also a time to prepare for Christmas, but
in a different way. It is an opportunity to prepare ourselves to celebrate the great mystery at
the heart of our faith: that in Jesus born to Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem, God comes
among us as one of us, as our hidden saviour.

In Jesus we see the truth of God; we see God as He has revealed Himself. That is why John in
his Gospel calls Him the Word of God. In the baby laid in the manger and in the man that
the baby grew into, God shows Himself to us.

Jesus has been called the “Unexpected God;” because He did not meet the expectations of the
people of His day. Many of the prophecies that people thought applied to the Messiah were
not fulfilled in Jesus; instead He fulfilled hopes and promises that no one before Him ever
thought applied to God’s promised King.

People expected a powerful war-like king who would bring judgement and punishment on
the people and on the nations. Malachi’s vision was of the Messiah who would come as a
refiner’s fire purifying God’s people (Malachi 3:1-3).

Instead God came as a powerless, vulnerable child. He would purify the people by carrying
their sin and guilt. Jesus was forced to endure imperfect and unjust human judgement. Even
as a child He had to endure the murderous jealousy of Herod, becoming a refugee in Egypt
before He was two years old.

In Jesus we are surprised by the humility and the love and the mercy of God … for us. He
came as the prince of peace and as Emmanuel, the child who would bring reconciliation and
healing.

I invite you in all of the busyness to take a little time this Advent, to pause and to remember
the heart and soul of our faith. That God is as He is in Jesus. As we tell the familiar story of
the child born in the stable and laid in the manger, worshipped by shepherds and hunted by
a king, remember that this child is God. God come among us. God come to find us. God
come to bring peace among us and to reconcile every one of us to the Father.

Jesus was the Messiah that no one expected and very few wanted, but He is the Messiah that
we all need. He is the Christ, our saviour and our lord, seeking out the lost. He is Jesus God
with us.
             
Amen.
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Following Jesus; Celebrating Life; Welcoming All
We are here to help people love and worship God.
We aim to be, and encourage others to become, committed and active disciples of Jesus,
who love God and worship him, who know the power of the Holy Spirit and who show
God’s love in every part of their lives.
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Prayer for the month
Thought for the month
Below you will find extracts from this month's Parish Magazine
First Words...,  A Prayer for the Month & A Thought for the Month
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This is our new Diocesan prayer, launched by Bishop Pete at the Diocesan Development Day
in October. Over the past few months he has been presenting his vision for the diocese from
January 2019 until 2015. At the same time he has been sharing with us the challenges in both
ministry and finances that we are facing as a Diocese.

At the same time he has written a prayer and is calling together a 2025 Prayer Community,
a group of at least 2025 people who will commit to praying this prayer every day for 6 years
from January 2019 until 2025. Alongside the Diocesan Prayer he is asking that the Prayer
Community commit to reading a verse of Scripture, praying the Lord’s prayer and asking
God to bless our Diocesan Strategy.

On Advent Sunday I will be handing everyone in Church a personal copy of this prayer on a
bookmark - convenient for slipping into a Bible!

I have some forms available for those who wish to sign up to join the Prayer Community,
those who sign up will get updates and prayer resources.

We are facing challenges as a Diocese, and I am pleased that our bishop is calling us first and
foremost to prayer. Because this is God’s Church and God’s mission. If God is with us we
have all the resources that we need.

Perhaps God has brought the Church in this land to the place where we have to put our trust
and confidence in Him and in His grace so that we can become more effective in our mission
to bring the Gospel of Christ to all the people of our land.

Please pray daily for our Church and for our Diocese; and please consider whether you are
able to make the commitment to join the Prayer Community.

God bless you.
Tim
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  • First Words, Prayer for the Month and Thought for the Month have been
    updated for November 2018- see below

  • We have added a New Burial Records Page  covering over 6000 individuals
    interred in the St Mary's Section of Ecclesfield Cemetery from 1875 onwards

  • The October 2018 issue of the Parish Magazine is now available On-Line see:
  • Listen again to recently recorded Sunday Sermons -  Listen Again

  • Don't forget to check the Weekly Notices page for service times and the
    latest news.

  • Free Wi-Fi available in church for those who need to be 'connected'
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As usual December is a very busy month at St Mary’s.
We begin with the
Christmas Fayre on Saturday 1st December in the Gatty Hall and
Church.

Then on
Sunday 2nd December we will hold a very special service of Advent Carols at
10am.

Our Christmas services and events begin on
Sunday 9th December. After the 10am service
from
11.30 to 12.30 we will be having Christmas Crafts aimed at Primary School age
children. Parents and guardians are welcome to stay for refreshments, (tea, coffee and cake!),
and see what their children are up to! For more information see Stephanie Dale.
At 6.00pm
also on the 9th December we will be hosting the annual Community Carols around
the Tree
in the Churchyard.

On Sunday
16th December at 4pm we have our popular Christingle Service, raising
funds for The Children’s Society.

On
Monday 17th December at 7pm we are pleased to welcome Ecclesfield High School
for their Christmas concert.

And on Tuesday 18th December at 2pm Key Stage Two children from Ecclesfield
Primary School
will be in Church for their Christmas Carol Service.

There is a change of key on Friday 21st December at 7pm with the Service of the
Longest Night.

On Christmas Eve, Monday 24th December at 4pm we will be holding our Crib
Service and at 6.30pm it is the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

Finally, on Christmas Day, Tuesday 25th December on Jesus Birthday we will
celebrate an All Age Eucharist at 10am.

There is something for everyone. Could I encourage you to pray about all of these events,
and also think about who you can invite to one of these special services.

January is usually a quiet month in the Church’s calendar, but there are some events to take
note of.

On
Monday 7th Jan at 7.30pm we have the first PCC Meeting of 2019.
On
Wednesday 9th Jan at 1.30 it is the Mothers’ Union AGM in the Gatty Hall, and on
Wed 23rd Jan at 12.30 there is the annual Mothers’ Union Christmas Lunch.

On Monday 28th Jan at 7.30pm the Ecclesfield Community forum will meet at the
Gatty Hall (TBC)

Please note that from
Sunday 13th to Sunday 20th Jan St Mary’s will be holding a
Prayer Week. As part of this week there will be a time of Reflection, Worship and Waiting
on God held on
Wednesday 16th Jan 2.30 - 4pm. It is an invitation to pray for our Church,
it’s mission and ministry at the beginning of the New Year. More details soon.

God bless,
Tim
Twitter - keep in touch with Tim Gill @RevTimGill
The Knave and South Aisle roof works are now complete
and we are once again water tight
Our Thanks to all those involved in the works and
particularly to the Heritage Lottery Fund and its
supporters for their generous contribution.
Thanks also to Ecclesfield Feoffees for their contribution to
the work done on the North Aisle roof
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Renewed; Released; Rejuvenated

Living God
Jesus calls His followers to seek first your Kingdom.
Renew us as we make your love known;
Release us to share freely together in mission;
and Rejuvenate us to be fruitful in your service.
Give us courage, wisdom and compassion,
that strengthened with the grace of the Holy Spirit,
we may, as the Diocese of Sheffield, both flourish and grow
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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