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All good things around us...

Dear Friends,

Just a few weeks ago I visited a garden centre only to run into the hazard of its Christmas shop. At the entrance to the shop stood the Christmas Gates, a huge metal affair about ten feet high in red and green. To my amazement it came with the price tag of £2000. I wondered who would go to this expense, let alone the trouble of getting them home? Clearly there is a market for such ‘tat’ but at such a price?

Beyond the gates lay a tinselled world of glistening Christmas trees, fairy lights, an enormous stuffed life-sized reindeer toy and assorted tacky not-so-cheap Christmas ephemera – which would probably be packed back into boxes until next year, well before twelfth night. I looked for the real Christmas and where I might find the gate to it. But all was in vain. It’s a picture of the contemporary Christmas challenge for people who are seeking meaning, truth and help but are looking in the wrong place.

In John’s gospel, Jesus compared himself to a gate though which his sheep could go in and out and find pasture – a picture of abundant life. Thousands, millions would probably go in through Jesus the Gate, if only they could find it, recognise it see him. But to them, the gates seem to remain closed, locked.

The good news is that we have the key. We Christians have an awesome responsibility in sharing the good news of Jesus with others, showing them the gate which is Jesus through which to walk to enter eternal life. Not all of us are called to be evangelists, but all of us are called to be witnesses to what we know of Jesus and we can all pray. Prayer is the key which unlocks the gates of heaven.

So, this month we are calling the people of St Paul’s to pray:
  for our families and friends, and our neighbours and colleagues, maybe the woman we see each week on the bus, or the elderly gentleman in the public library; pray that gate may be unlocked: that they may hear about Jesus, see Jesus and seeing him walk in through that gate and find peace, joy and eternal life.
  For ourselves, that God may give us the opportunities to share our experience, the wit not to miss them and the courage to speak
  For people to invite to our services and for ourselves to have the courage to issue invitations
  For all preachers and broadcasters, that through services in church and on the radio and TV millions may hear something of the Good News of Jesus.
  For St Paul’s, our Advent and Christmas services, that many will come, hear and respond to the Gospel.

That St Paul’s may grow numerically, spiritually and have a greater impact upon our community.

As we pray for others, may Jesus Christ, our Incarnate Saviour, bless us all with the knowledge of his love and presence with us as we serve him in the New Year.

With love and prayers,

Fr Kevin.