Sunday December 27th at Hampsthwaite Chapel

Beth went home after lunch on Sunday December 27th. I was pleased to find that the flooding from the constant rain of the previous two days had not blocked my way to Hampsthwaite, where I was due to take a service. Apparently the bridge over the river at Hampsthwaite and the Anglican Churchyard had got flooded the previous day. I was able to drive to the chapel easily and was pleased to see we had a good number present on the day after Boxing Day and even an organist. Normally at Hampsthwaite Chapel they use recorded music for the hymns pre-set in the service order, so it was lovely to have an organist.
We began worship singing ‘Once in royal David’s city’ before I led the opening prayers. Three members of the congregation took part in the dramatised reading based on Luke 2.39-52. I read a short extract about a young student, advanced in many ways, but not ready in his parent’s view to consider church membership. Then we sang, ‘O little town of Bethlehem.’ We also heard the readings from 1 Samuel 2.18-20, 26 and Colossians 3.12-17. We sang, ‘Cradled in a manger meanly’ before I preached.
Hannah had prayed for years to be able to have a child and finally in desperation she promised she would dedicate that child to God, were she to have a child. Samuel was the child prayed for. Eli adopted Samuel and trained him, but Hannah and her husband did not stop loving him, and visited him each year bringing him a new cloak. Eli prayed that they would be blessed with other children and Hannah did indeed have more children. Samuel the chosen, adopted son grew in wisdom and favour with God and people.
Luke described Jesus becoming a man at the age of 12. His act of obedience to the Jewish law was attending his first Passover festival at Jerusalem. It would have been so exciting for him and there would be so much to see that it was not surprising that he lost track of time and lingered longer fascinated by the ritual and activity of the Temple. Returning home the women usually set off home in advance of the men, as they travelled more slowly so Mary and Joseph did not realise that Jesus was missing until the evening, as they had assumed he was with other relatives. Mary and Joseph hurried back to Jerusalem anxiously searching for him, but it was 3 days before they found him discussing religious and theological questions with the learned Sanhedrin. Everyone who heard Jesus’ questions were amazed by his intelligent questions and answers. Mary and Joseph wondered why Jesus had not realised that they would be worried about him. Jesus could not understand why they would be worried, as they should have realised he would be in his father’s house. Jesus then went meekly back home with them and was obedient to them and continued to grow in favour with God and people. What I love is how Mary treasured all those things in her heart and learnt from all her special son said.
Paul had just earlier in Colossians reminded his readers that they had all been chosen by God and were now beloved like the Jews; there was no longer a question of Jew or Greek, as they were all equal in Christ. Paul emphasised the importance of Christian Community, where they had to be clothed in qualities such as mercy, compassion, and humility, to deepen their interpersonal relationships. All the attributes they needed to form a Christian Community were to be bound together in love leading to deeper faith and fellowship, as they grew ever closer to Jesus.
We too like Eli, Mary and Joseph can listen to what children and young people say and learn from their insights. May all our words and actions, everything we do be in the name of our Lord Jesus sharing God’s love with all we meet.
We sang ‘It came upon the midnight clear,’ before I led the prayers of intercession. Worship concluded when we sang ‘Let earth and heaven combine.’

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