The Camel Train to Epiphany on the Beach

This is the email we sent in 2014 to celebrate and frame our ‘holiday’ from Sunday Gatherings after Christmas….

This year we will return to our normal gatherings at 12 Brighton Street at 4.30pm on January 17th 2016.

Enjoy the time…

​Greetings Newmarket Friends,

Happy Epiphany!  It marks the end of the 12 Days of Christmas.

Whilst the significance of Advent/ Christmas is regularly overshadowed by big summer events and consumer sales it’s actually this end of the Christmas season that often gives us the space and re-direction our souls need.  This was one reason we chose to have a break from gathering on Sunday’s at Brighton Street in our normal way during this season.

When we first announced this break Andy and I promised an Epiphany on the Beach’ email.   I’m writing this to you in a cafe at Rye surrounded by the Greek community who are celebrating Epiphany by diving for a gold cross thrown off the pier; dancing and doing the family thing.  Whatever your new year looks like in terms of holidays, family, culture or returning to work; Epiphany is about the revelation of who Christ is for us and the world!

Epiphany focusses on the Journey of the Magi and so at this time of year we’d like to invite you to consider… 

How might your spiritual journey at Newmarket Baptist this year be like that of the Magi… exciting, full of danger, drama, unexpected turns, wonder, gift-giving, the crossing of political, social and religious divides…etc …. in short… worship of The Word made Flesh? 

As pastoral leaders within our inner city culture we are conscious that we are surrounded by ‘nones’ (non religious) and ‘dones’ (people who identify as Christian but are ‘over’ or too busy for traditional church).  Far from being threatened by this, we have seen this as an opportunity to be church in different ways and by resourcing a missional spirituality that helps people to follow Jesus, however they identify.  As Tim Costello reminded us in a prophetic and political article this week, Jesus called us not to be ‘church members’ a ‘Sunday Club’ or even ‘Christians’ but disciples… 

“Jesus didn’t call people to be Christians but to be disciples that practised all he taught, including the impossible bits like love your enemies and turn the other cheek.”

Our recent ‘Beer and Carols’ which supported our People’s Pantry, was once again a great Christmas event that embodied this diversity in our neighbourhood.  I love that we can host a worshipful event in a pub where we were able to give a literal seat of honour for Muslim, Iranian asylum seekers who have experienced the in-hospitable policies of our government.  Iran is where the original Magi came from by the way!

To minister in this context at Newmarket Baptist we need a STRONG CORE of people who can understand and commit to following Jesus TOGETHER!.. Which brings me to the oft forgotten camels… The Magi didn’t get their Epiphany journey without a vehicle!

“Can we be a camel train of disciples for the Magi’s journey?”

At Newmarket we have summarised discipleship in four simple practices.. Here’s some epiphany questions for you…

PRAY:  How can prayer be your very breath this year?  A space for awareness that all our passions and hopes and new years resolutions ultimately survive in God.  How can Newmarket Baptist better enable you to thrive and breathe as a spiritual person?  How can our worship gatherings better enable this?

Action: Consider joining in our practical workshop series on ‘How to Pray’ in Ordinary Time after the Season of Easter (June)

… thirsty camels!

EAT:   How can your eating be made more meaningful and sacred?  Like Jesus; What strategic meals in your life might lead to the sense of community where you can taste and see the gracious, radicial hosptiality that saves us?

Action: Consider hosting or attending occaisional ‘Feast Days’ in 2015 to be held in people’s homes or at the church

… hungry camels!

LEARN:  How can you grow personally?  How can you contribute to a community in honest conversation and radical openness to our own needs and those of others?  What deeper knowing is vital for your life and how might this search in your life be guided by the rich treasure of the Biblical story?

Action : Consider writing a short reflection on a discipleship theme in Mark’s Gospel as part of our ‘40 Ways in 40 Days’ Campaign in Lent (February/March)

Attend our Bible series on the Acts of the Apostles “Turning the World Upside Down”. (April/May)

Offer to participate in a renewed focus on teaching and learning from our kids at our Sunday Gatherings in 2015.

…. wise and fearless camels… with a sense of direction!

SERVE:  In response to God’s grace what would I love to do, proclaim, heal or work to cast out this year? From small acts of loving kindness to the vocations of our professional working lives and household responsibilities…

Action: Sign up to volunteer for People’s Pantry or Community Lunch, the Newmarket Phoenix Soccer Club, singing down the pub, rosters for our Sunday Gatherings…etc.

…reliable, working camels!

At Pentecost (May 24th) we will once again hold our annual covenanting service celebrating the birthday of the local and universal church.  We will celebrate and name some broader leadership positions and discipleship commitments however we are conscious that the space for many of the decisions is happening at the start of a new year, right now.

 

Hope to see you on the camel train to Epiphany!

Much Grace,

Marcus & Andy

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