Notices for Sunday 4th December 2016

“I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life.”
Matt 3:11 (Message)

Help us Father God to continue to turn our lives around so that we can see which is the wheat and which is the chaff that needs to be sorted.
Amen

We welcome our preacher this morning who is  Mr Philip Oliver
After service tea hosts Val and Betti

Our thanks for the flowers this morning which are given by Joyce Ledgard in memory of her husband Dennis
Organist: Joan McGowan

Sunday 11th December
11.00am        Mrs Naomi Squire
Vestry Steward – Elizabeth
Door Steward – Chris
Tea Hosts – Chris and Joan

Diary Dates

December
Sun 4th         Chapel Anniversary at Overton 6.30pm
Mon 5th        Carol Singing around the village 6.00pm
Tue 6th        Christmas Coffee Morning Llangollen 10.00am – noon
Wed 7th       Midweek Communion at Regent Street 11.15am
Thu 8th        Concert for Hope House at Ruabon 7.00pm
Thu 8th        Fashion Show at Gresford 7.30pm
Fri 9th         Christmas Quiz here in the hall 7.00pm
Sat 10th       Christmas Fair/Coffee Morning at Brymbo 10.00am
Sat 10th       Christmas Tree Festival Llangollen 10.00am – 3.00pm
Sun 11th        Christmas Tree Festival Llangollen 12.30pm – 3.30pm
Wed 14th      Festival of Carols at Overton 7.00pm
Mon 28th      “Time Out” a monthly reflective worship 2.00pm at the home of Barry and Angela Smith

Friday Lunch Club is finished until January

Please pray for the following:
Isobel Holroyd
Dorreen Holroyd
Michael Shipley
Keith and Myra Baugh
Evelyn Taylor
Pete and Ruby Kasprowicz
Rev Phil Poole

All those who care for those in need.
We thank God for answered prayer and ask that he helps us to understand that all things do work together for good.

Harvesting Wheat and Chaff
Matt 3:1-12

This is harvest season where I live in the northern hemisphere. As a matter of fact, most crops are already in, even though we had warmer weather and later frost than in recent memory. Our garden (except for the Brussels sprouts) has been put to bed; we won’t be gathering anything again until the asparagus starts around the first of April.

John the Baptist uses harvest as an agricultural metaphor for our spirituality.

John is the odd uncle you tolerate (maybe even genuinely enjoy) at your family holiday dinner, but you don’t want him around all the time. The camel hair outfit can even be cute in an eccentric sort of way, and you don’t mind serving him a jar of honey, but frying up those locusts just about makes you gag. (No wonder the honey is required.)

John’s ascetic lifestyle demonstrates that we don’t need showiness to express the message of God. Like a Hebrew prophet, John distils that message in ways that are graphic, and about as unpalatable as locust fricassee.

“Prepare the way of the Lord” is a familiar passage for John’s crowd, and they eat it up, coming by droves to be baptized. But when the Pharisees and Sadducees show up he calls them poisonous snakes—not exactly a very welcoming approach. Then he blasts them with more complicated imagery.

Wheat and chaff.

The dictionary defines chaff as “the husks of grains and grasses that are separated during threshing.” The chaff is inedible, indigestible. (More than locusts??) It is only removed by the threshing process after the wheat is harvested, and then it’s destroyed in the fire while the wheat is carefully stored to nourish the people until the next harvest.

Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do the right thing. Always.

But “always” isn’t really a possibility, is it? It’s hard to tell if the words are aimed at the Pharisees and Sadducees, or to the crowd—probably both. Sadducees and Pharisees were often dissed in the gospels for an external, showy spirituality while neglecting the heart, and also for ignoring justice and poverty concerns.

We, too, make mistakes, some of them terrible ones with grave consequences. That’s where the repentance is important. Yes, John the Baptist, we hear you. Faith isn’t just about coming out to the wilderness to be entertained by preaching and then washed in the river. It’s a lifetime of bearing fruit. It’s a continuing movement toward God, ever imperfectly.

We bring forth “wheat” by working for justice, loving God and neighbour, exhibiting faithfulness. The “chaff” is all the other stuff that doesn’t belong—the stuff that doesn’t lead to life.

The fruit of all our actions takes the form of both wheat and chaff—things that are life-giving and things that ought to be discarded. The hard beauty of it is that God sorts it all out in the end.

© 2016, Melissa Bane Sevier, First Presbyterian Church, Aurora, Indiana, USA

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