Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Unexpected Route

On the third Sunday of Advent we had a Sunday Special that started at 9-00 in the morning as our youngsters met for breakfast and some fun and games.  They made an unexpected journey that took them around the district looking for things that began with each letter of the word Christmas.

They then joined us in church as we explored the theme of 'Unexpected Journeys'

Carolyn Tennant, our Children's Worker then shared these reflections.

The theme of our service is ‘The unexpected Journey’.

If you have ever used a Sat-Nav, you will probably have your own unexpected journey stories to tell!

Have a look at this light hearted clip about the not-so wise men…

Show ‘Sat-nav-tivity’
We’ll be coming back to their story later.

(Children to the front.)
The children who came for their breakfast this morning have made an unexpected journey themselves.
Can you tell us about it?
(What was unexpected about it? Where did you go? How did you decide where to go? How did you find your way back? Did you have any other jobs to do on the way?)

Children sit down, readers remain.

In the Christmas Story, the people involved had to make many different journeys. These weren’t fun holiday type journeys. They weren’t exciting adventurous trips that had been months in planning. Sometimes the people had to leave in a hurry and think quickly about what they might need and travel light. I think it’s true to say none of the journeys was planned and most were reluctant travellers.
Let’s listen to the story as the children tell it now.

Unexpected Christmas Journeys

1.      Luke 2:1-7
When Mary was expecting her baby, everyone was ordered to go and register in their own towns. So, Joseph and Mary had to make an unexpected journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem where the baby was born.

2.    Luke 2:8-20
Some shepherds were spending the night watching their sheep in the fields. An angel came to them and the glory of God shone over them. The angel told them not to be afraid and said they should go and see the new baby. So it was that the shepherds made an unexpected journey and Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger.  They rushed back praising God every step of the way.

3.    Matthew 2:1-12
Some men who studied the stars travelled from the east expecting to find the baby in Jerusalem.  King Herod wanted to trap the new born baby, so the wise men journeyed on, following a star and finally they found the baby and gave him their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They had to make an unexpected journey home by another route as God had warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod.

4.    Matthew 2:13-15
After the wise men left, an angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him to go and take Mary and the baby Jesus to Egypt to keep them safely away from Herod and his plans. So Joseph had to make another unexpected journey in the night with his family.

5.    Matthew 2:19-23
After Herod died, an angel came to Joseph in another dream and told him to take Mary and Jesus back to Israel. So up he got and travelled again. But when Joseph heard that Archelaus was the new king, he was frightened of going through Judea.   God told him in another dream to go to Galilee and so one last unexpected journey took the family back to Nazareth.  There Jesus grew strong in body and wise in spirit.  And the grace of God was on him.

I hope you spotted all the journeys.

You might think that it was an odd idea for God to make Christmas happen like that.

Do you think you could have organized it better and made it easier?

We might feel like that in our own lives.

Unexpected things happen.

Things change and we have to change our routes and our plans sometimes.
This might involve moving house or school, friends moving away, having new teachers or dealing with the disappointment of an event we used to enjoy, no longer running.

For the adults, we learn that life is full of adaptations and we constantly need to review and re-work our ‘world maps’.

I was fascinated when I first read ‘The Road Less Travelled’.
Scott Peck writes,

 ‘Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost.’

He goes on at length to explore how we need to constantly revise our maps all our lives, continuing to learn and embracing new information and ideas in order to keep our maps true.

Things change and we have to take a different route.
How do we cope?
We are going to hear how we can help in people’s lives through the work of CCP which helps people to deal with changing circumstances.

God doesn’t change.
But that doesn’t mean he’s dull or boring!
He has strange and unexpected plans for our life journeys!
What we know is that we can trust him.
He has the master plan and writes all the maps.

Later in the service Dave and Al who, together with Matt, grew up at Highbury and now work for County Community Projects spoke about the work CCP does in Cheltenham.  CCP is our Christmas collection and we are collecting food parcels each week.  This video gives a graphic glimpse of the kind of work CCP does.

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