A little thought this Christmas by Juliet Bohen

Christmas

Where would you like to be this Christmas? I expect that most of you, like me, will be quietly at home in Liphook. Where would I like to be? No, not in an exotic tropical location, nor in a snowy winter wonderland. I would like to be in Ripon. Ripon is the cathedral city in North Yorkshire where I was born 74 years ago and baptised in the cathedral there. Ripon Cathedral remains one of my special places and I visit whenever I can. For a few years from 2014  to 2017, it was actually ‘my’ cathedral and I still receive a weekly newsletter and sponsor a chorister there. Magical for me is the Carol Service on Christmas Eve, followed later by Midnight Mass. Also on Boxing Day, an annual pilgrimage is held, from the Cathedral, over the fields to Fountains Abbey, another special place for me.

But does it matter where we are at Christmas? What matters is how we celebrate it and with whom. Two years ago, I spent a wonderful Christmas Day helping to prepare and serve Christmas lunch, followed by carols and a quiz, for people who otherwise would be ‘home alone’. Most of us are usually with our families but spare a thought for all those who will be spending Christmas alone, especially this year.

No, what really matters is that it is a time for kindness, giving, sharing, worshipping and remembering the baby in the manger, Christ, the light of the world, sent to be our Saviour. So let’s all make sure that we keep the CHRIST firmly in Christmas.

From our Healing & Wholeness service

We had a Healing and Wholeness service on Sunday – and asked God what he wanted to heal.  We wanted to ensure that everyone – even if you were not in the service –  to know what we heard. 

If one of the words below applies to you and you would like prayer – please contact vicar@liphookchurch.co.uk – as we would love to set up a time to pray for you because we believe that God wants to heal you today.

We heard words about people with the following conditions:

  • A displaced hip
  • Sinus problems
  • Turned out knees – feeling very vulnerable in the knee area
  • Tightness in the left calf
  • Skin rash on the left side of your neck
  • Broken or cracked ankle which isn’t healing fully

We also heard a series of prophetic words about other people that God wants to touch:

  • Someone sitting in a dim light and God is saying “Come to Me, so that my light might shine on you”
  • Someone living in fear and God wants to free you
  • Someone who is mourning the loss of a child
  • God wants to see someone dancing for joy – release from inhibition
  • Someone having to make a decision and there is a battle going on inside you
  • Someone who has a stampede going on in their mind – God wants to still you

Lastly, we had some words which we think might make sense to someone:

  • The word “robed”
  • Picture of a hammer
  • Picture of bread being kneaded

If any of these mean anything to you, do please get in touch, as we love to pray for people.

The Star of Bethlehem by Juliet Bohun

The Star of Bethlehem

Will you, too, be following the star to Bethlehem this week? Two thousand years ago, the Bible tells us, wise men came from the east to find the baby Jesus, following a star.

On December the 21st (the winter solstice), next week, you may be able to see the Star of Bethlehem in the night sky. If the weather is fine and the night sky clear, if you look into the south-west sky in the early evening, you may see the star. The planets Jupiter and Saturn will align so closely (0.1degrees apart) that they will create a radiant point of light called the Solstice Star, or the Star of Bethlehem, or the Christmas Star. Alignment between the two planets occurs every twenty years but this is the closest they will come since the Middle Ages.

Is this how the Star of Bethlehem in the Bible was formed? It is more likely to have been a nova or supernova explosion or even a comet but it could have been a close conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.

So, will you be following that star to Bethlehem next week? Will you be there in the stable with the shepherds, the wise men, Mary and Joseph worshipping and adoring the baby Jesus? Will you be there welcoming the Christ Child into the world, into your heart and into your life?

Juliet Bohun

Just Be by Paul Arnold

Just Be – Paul Arnold

At the moment I am taking a kind of sabbatical from my ministry following God’s very clear message that I was doing too much. I have stopped to reflect on who I am before God and what shape my ministry should be. Stopping and pausing is difficult for me I like to be busy in a perverse way. I am too often a Martha rather than a Mary.

One Sunday during lockdown I heard a song on Songs of Praise that suddenly struck a chord:

Everything else can wait

I’ve come to seek Your face

So everything else can wait

I’m here for You, I want to

 

Just be, here at Your feet

Just be, here on my knees

Everything else can wait

I’ve come to seek Your face

So everything else can wait

I’m here for You, I want to

 

Just be, here at Your feet

Just be, here on my knees

Here in Your presence, I am complete

Jesus, You’re all that I need

 

So everything else can wait

I’ve come to seek Your face

Everything else can wait

I’m here for You, I want to

 

Just be, here at Your feet

Just be, here on my knees

Here in Your presence, I am complete

Jesus, You’re all that I need

 

The song is called Just Be and is on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wI-ulpVhFAs

Something for us all to ponder and act on this Advent.

More on Names by Paul Arnold

Juliet’s blog post reminded me of part of a sermon I preached in 2018 on Philippians 3v1-11 and I spoke on our new identity in Christ, not based on our ethnicity, sex, nationality, nor outward physical symbol, and we have a new name.

In TS Elliot’s poem about the naming of cats he describes cats as having three names, we might think of them as identities:

Firstly, the name that the family uses daily,

Then a name particular to that cat – that only he has. A name that he cherishes and gives him pride.

Finally, a name that no human research can discover – as the poem says:

His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation

Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name

His ineffable effable

Effanineffable

Deep and inscrutable singular name.

Just like the cats in the poem we have a name that God has given us that no one else can discover, a name that reaches to the centre of our very being in Christ.

Paul Arnold

What’s in a name? By Juliet Bohun

I have been blessed with a lovely Christian name, Juliet, no middle name. I was fortunate because my father, a professional musician, wanted to call me Cecilia, after the patron saint of music. Fortunately, this did not go with my surname which was Sunderland, which I had for twenty years. My first married name was Bycroft which I had for another twenty years and for the past thirty-three years, I have been Bohun. Technically, my name should now be Budd but that’s another story! No-one can spell or pronounce or spell my surname which is Bo-une but it is distinctive.

My name is what defines me. I am Juliet, Juliet Bohun. What would I do nowadays if I did not have an email/user name?

Isaiah (in Chapter 43, verse 1) says, “ the Lord who created you says, I have called you by name – you are mine.” In verse 4 he says, “you are precious to me.” I, me, am special and precious to God. In Psalm 139, David says that God knows everything about me. He knows my thoughts and my words before I speak them. His knowledge of me is so deep that it is beyond my understanding.

Do read Isaiah 43 1-5 and Psalm 139. Know that you, each one of you, too, has been called by name and you, too, are special and precious to God.

Juliet Bohun

A Blessing from David Strutt

I have a copy of Russ Parker’s excellent new book, ‘Pilgrim Wild’ and I offer you this blessing today:

God the Father bless you with a journey not imprisoned

By fears but one shot through with hope.

 God the Son bless you with a life not defined by your

Words and deeds but one transfigured by truth too vast to

Hold.

 God the Holy Spirit bless you with a mission not

Determined by the level of your understanding or wisdom

But one lifted up by the power in His wings.

 Amen

 You can change the ‘you’ to ‘me’ and pray it over yourself when you wish. Very beautiful.

Some thoughts on lockdown by Juliet Bohun

I spent the whole winter of 1970/71 living on my own with my 3 year old daughter in a married quarter in Kent. It was a bitterly cold winter and we had several heavy snowfalls. I had no central heating, only a coal fire, no telephone, no car and had to carry food in, trudging through the snow. The only means I had of communicating with my husband who was on board a ship in the Far East, was by writing letters (I think I wrote 150) and the only means of communication with my family was from a public phone box. I had a television with, I think, three channels. I was not in lockdown but had no transport and nowhere much to go.

Fast forward 50 years! I am still living on my own but I have central heating, a landline phone, a mobile phone, a tablet, a computer, Messenger, Zoom, a car and Sainsbury delivering all I need each week. How many channels do I have on my television? I still have that delightful daughter, now aged 53. I can’t meet friends in person in their home but I have all these means of communicating with them and I can actually see them! All meetings and church carry on as normal but on Zoom.

So, what on earth am I complaining about?

Juliet Bohun

Val’s blog for the week – Saturday

It’s always good to reflect on a week of outreach. Every day was different. Some days I had a stream of people just wanting to talk, other days were quieter which gave me an opportunity to pray for the village – and it was often on these days that I had the most significant conversations. The last day was a good one! One man with his two young daughters who may start coming to our church (there were a few of those!), another young man who had had a long battle with depression and anxiety, a lady with back pain (no more!), a young man with big questions, and I wouldn’t have spoken to any of them had I not taken the time to pray and to be available.

I think that’s the big learning – and it usually strikes me whenever I set time aside to do something for God. So often we just need to make ourselves available and when we do God has no trouble using us just as we are to see him work in ways that are beyond us. I’m planning to make myself more available in this season – I’m going to enrol in a course because part of being available is making myself available to God. I’m also going to do more in the way of outreach mainly because I do sense that this is where we need to be as a church so watch this space. Thank you to all. 

Val’s blog for the week – Thursday

It’s good to rest in God’s presence – in many ways that’s what being in the square is all about.  Just resting and praying and being with the community, and today was all about just that.  Resting, praying and meeting, an amazing French Sommelier who told me all about his dad and his amazing ideas about why we’re here, a wise old dad still looking after his kids as best he could after they’d long left home, a local councillor who told me all about her family, local shop keepers most of whom would love me to bless their businesses, local personalities friends from church one of whom had ventured out of her house for the first time.  Listening, chatting and praying.

The general bonhomie and good feeling has been growing – I was surprised to see my face on the front of the herald – pleased to give cake to the staff in the pub who have been amazing, cheered by the drinks and offers of food.  Tomorrow is a day off but I’ll be praying for sunny Saturday – praying for God to do something big and something new.