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This week is the second Sunday of Advent – always a busy time of year when we are preparing for Christmas, planning and preparing all the extra services and events that happen over the next few weeks.
This time last year we were battling the great uncertainty of whether our Christmas celebrations would be able to go ahead. We had just come out of the second lockdown, but the Covid infection numbers were rising. In the event we had to cancel our Christmas plans. This year we continue to face uncertainty as the new variant begins to spread but hopefully with the vaccination programme stepping up we won’t have to cancel all our Christmas plans again.
Of course Christmas itself can never be canceled. We can always celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour where ever we are, whoever we are with, whatever the circumstances.
This year we are hoping and praying that most of our Christmas plans will go ahead, even if they have had to be curtailed from the usual became of the continued need for Covid precautions and social distancing. So we will still hold our carol services, but with reduced numbers meaning that maybe they will have to be ‘booked’ for seating.
As all this goes goes on we have been struggling with the Stationing process. As our time in Gloucester draws to a close at the end of next Summer, it is now that the process takes place of matching Ministers and Circuits to determine which moves will be made and where we will all end up after the great August Methodist move! We find that our excitement at exploring something new is tinged with grief at what we will leave behind.
From our point of view it’s a process of looking through profiles of prospective Circuits and making a list of potentials which we then give to the Chair of District. This can be quite s stressful process in itself and then there is the waiting while the Stationing Matching Group meets and we wait to hear if we have been matched with somewhere on our list or maybe somewhere completely different! Once a match is made a visit is organised and then the Circuit and the Presbyter make a decision on whether to accept the match.
Currently we are waiting to go and visit the Circuit with which we have been matched in the second round and we hope and pray that all will be well.
We know that in all of this God is acting even if it can at times be difficult to see his plan. Through our prayers and the prayers of others we try to determine his will and to be obedient to it. But inevitably we don’t always get it right. Maybe at times his will is hard to hear, or maybe we just don’t really want to see it. But we continue to hope and pray that God will be our guide and support in the decisions we make. Thank you to everyone who has been holding us in your prayers. Please continue to do so as we continue our search next weekend.
Lord be our help and our guide as we negotiate the path through Covid at Christmas and also as we discern your will for us in the next phase of our life in your service. Amen.