“Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
Thus Luke announces the words of an Angel in his Gospel telling the good news that God is sending help to the world through a baby boy. A baby who was, we know, born in the modest surrounding of an inn. Today it might be a hotel room. Born in the inn because the parents had nowhere else to go, all they could do was to plead for help from an innkeeper.
We come to the end of another year and we are mindful that life is tough for many, the aftermath of the riots remind us of the sense of injustice felt by many. Global unrest and fears over the economy have seen unemployment continue to rise and for the first, time over 1 million young people are unemployed. What hope is there in the future for them? How tight will this Christmas be with increasing fuel bills and frozen salaries? As a church we have strived to play our part, be it collecting clothing and goods for people whose homes were burnt down in Croydon or raising the awareness of people trafficking within the Epsom community. We are committed to continuing to work with our community and trust in God to direct our actions.
Yet, despite the gloom we feel around us the overriding message of Luke remains true. This is a time to celebrate because God cared enough to send His Son to earth to offer us a new hope if only we will accept it. It is incredibly comforting to know that God loves you and that He cares for you. As the people of God the church is called to share that love in our community and as ever, we seek ways to offer hope and encouragement to those who need it most. As a church we seek to care for all, from the youngest to the oldest but at a time when we remember Jesus entering the world as a baby, it seems right to think about the work being done with young people. God mobilises us to be the modern day innkeeper offering shelter and encouragement to those in need. To reach out and encourage those in difficulty and to share the joy of all who feel good. We have seen God celebrating the life of young people in many ways over the last year. Our children’s groups report increased numbers and we thank God for all the leaders who work with our young people week by week. In April Little Monkeys was going to close but two people offered to lead the group which is now thriving and we are delighted that Genesis is also doing well. Add to that the wonderful Ofstead report we received for our Nursery and it seems clear that young people and their parents are thriving due to the offerings we provide. Recently we have seen Coffee Cup opening early on a Tuesday to allow the Nursery mums a chance to talk and share over coffee and we see this as key in building relationships with those who use our services but as yet do not worship with us on Sundays. Sundays have also recently seen the launch of a children’s choir at the same time as the Chinese Service (once a month) for those up to eleven years old and we have seen over twenty children attending along with their parents.
Over the last few months we have been thinking about how to develop further our links to families and children and the church is now being consulted about appointing a Family and Children’s worker. Such a project naturally needs funding but more importantly it would need a team to work with the person appointed - are you able to help in some way? We believe this work will build on the work already being done in the church for young people.
Of course Christmas is not just a time to remember the young and we are mindful of the need to make provision for everyone of all ages. The new Youth Hall will undoubtedly improve our provision for the older young people and we hope that the additional space created will also allow us to build our work with the adult community whom we serve. It was wonderful to see over 170 people at our service for those whose loved ones died in the past year and to see the church full at the Remembrance Day Service. We thank God that we can support those going through tough times and we ask that we will always be a people of hope.
As we enter 2012 we will recommit ourselves to the work of God at our special Covenant Service on 15th January. May we encourage one another by the sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ so that we can be hope to those around us?