in spite of….surprises!

Michael N. Jagessar

Just recently, an elder of my local URC church told me he was amused to read in Reform that as moderator of General Assembly I had no “official” appointment during the month of December. He thought that it was a good idea for me to have 20131229_114750“some rest”! I wish such was the case – trying to juggle teaching, attending to intercultural ministry tasks, meeting numerous writing deadlines, finding space for a few necessary meetings and just spending a full day at only one location!

It has been a very “full to overflowing” year for me. Carrying the responsibilities, joys and challenges that accompany the  above tasks have been made lighter and rewarding by the contributions of many colleagues, friends and family – through their care, prayers, wisdom, generous thoughts, engaging insights, humour, patience, understanding and much more.

It was great though to feel that I was not “living out of a suitcase” and to have some “free Sundays” in December when I could delight in joining my local congregation and neighbouring churches for worship. I did just that, though I was pleasantly surprised to be asked to sing in the choir of my church (Harpenden URC) for our annual Carols by Candlelight Service (Sunday December 22nd) and to read one of the lessons at the Carol Service of Marlborough Road Methodist Church in St. Albans (December 29th).

Though differently done, these were both excellently crafted and delivered Services! The Harpenden URC Carols by Candlelight Service was packed out! And the assembled congregation was not to be disappointed: the choir performed exceptionally well, ably supported by the brilliant reading of Scriptures and appropriate reflections. In spite of some “sore throats” which Strepsils and a variety local soothing concoctions kept under control, we sang our hearts out to familiar carols and new pieces written by the choirmaster (Don McCanlis).

The choice of carols at the Service at Marlborough Road Methodist Church (St. Albans) was different. And, like at Harpenden, it was excellent singing by choir, groups and the congregation. And what I delighted most in were the wide variety and diversity of voices who read the Scriptures and reflective pieces.

There is much to be thankful for in the life of our Churches, in spite of all the challenges we are faced with given the reality of changing circumstances. A retrospective glance back at the churches, places and events I have visited, where Iheart of love have represented the URC and in which I have participated over the year underscore that our life together has been blessed with delightful surprises. More often than not we become so engrossed and caught up in it all that we miss or take for granted the extraordinary things happening in the ordinary/regular rhythm of our life together. 

As the Child continues to lead us in exciting and surprising ways in 2014, may we take time to name, own and delight in the miracle of grace at work in our lives. And let us remember to always rejoice in thankfulness!


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