At this time of year we sometimes hear people say, ‘I am putting off the old year and putting on the new.’ It’s a seasonal version of that deep-seated human desire: the wish to start all over again. Who of us has not at some time wished that we could have a new beginning? To have another opportunity, a day, a week or even a year over again?

Read more: New Year, New start?

The angel said: ‘I bring good news of great joy for all people.’
Words which people don’t always associate with the Christian faith, but which in truth are at its very heart.
‘Good news’ – Perhaps you think Christianity is all about putting us in chains and limiting our lives? The news that God came to us, born as a helpless baby, fully God and fully human, really is good news. Millions of people past and present have found that Jesus has brought them purpose in life and a freedom from chains like guilt, failure, bitterness and fear.
‘Great joy’ – Perhaps your experience of Christianity has been dull and boring? The angel tells us this is the opposite of what Jesus came to bring. He captivated those who saw and heard him. He brought healing and new beginnings to lives he touched. Jesus said the new life he brings is the very best vintage wine, not the sour tasting plonk of dull religion.
‘All people’ – You might think you’re not a ‘religious type’ of person, that Jesus is fine for others but not for you. The announcement of his birth urges us to think again. Jesus is for all people, including you and me.
This Christmas (and every day of the year) God wants to fill us all with good news of great joy – You are invited to discover a little more of this news at St. David’s this Christmas. There’s truly something for everyone and a warm welcome guaranteed!

Last month clergy from the new Huddersfield area of the new diocese met with the Bishop of Huddersfield, Jonathan Gibbs. He took the opportunity to outline his vision and priorities for the future which are very much in line with what we're hearing from the Bishop of Leeds and the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is offering the statement 'Growing Churches – Changing Communities' as a summary.

Read more: Growing Churches – Changing Communities: Jesus Commandments and Commission

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip. John 1:45-46

There have been about 70 generations since the time of Jesus, since Philip invited Nathaniel to ‘come and see’ who this Jesus was.
We have the privilege of being able to issue such an invitation because 69 previous generations have done just that down through the centuries.
The Christian, the call to follow Jesus, is here today because countless millions have faithfully followed the example of Philip. People went and saw…. And they found something life changing when they did.
If people are to encounter Jesus in the future, if they are to find the ‘life in all its fullness’ he spoke about then we, the church today, has to pass on the ancient faith; we have to invite people to ‘come and see.’
After almost five years in the valley I have to say that in general (though there are exceptions) we’re not terribly good at it. Perhaps it’s fear of rejection, perhaps it’s English reserve, perhaps it’s a lack of confidence in ourselves or in what we believe, perhaps it’s a number of other things too.
One thing I do know for sure is that we Christians need to find our confidence and we need to create and build a culture of invitation in the valley.
The recent Festival of Faith was a wonderful series of events, when some did begin to invite others to ‘come and see.’ It’s now crucial we build on all the successes and all the learning points of that 9 day period.
At the launch event as well as hearing ‘live’ from Bishop Jonathan we saw a video clip of an interview of Archbishop Welby. Asked what the church is here for he said: ‘We’re here to worship God and to make disciples – everything else is decoration’
The Archbishops and Bishops, for the first time I can remember, are giving us a consistent message. It’s about growing our churches in depth of spirituality, in service to the world around us and in numbers too – It’s about pointing people to Jesus and extending Philips invitation ‘Come and see.’
Just pause for a moment – when was the last time you invited a friend or a neighbour to ‘come and see’.
The thing is, for the Christian it’s not an option for enthusiasts, but an obligation for all. This is what 69 generations have done. Will we the 70th generation do it too? 69 generations believed Jesus changes lives, do we believe that? 69 generations believed that through them God would make a difference in the world, do we believe that too?
Here’s the kind of thing we’re inviting people to come and see:
‘Come and see the Community of Jesus followers and feel its warmth.’
‘Come and see and explore some of life’s big questions.’
‘Come and discover the reality of answered prayer.’
‘Come and see and experience God personally.’
‘Come and see how your life can be different now.’
‘Come and see and find peace and rest for your soul.’
‘Come and see and be drawn into the love of the Trinity – always open to others, inviting people in.’
The call of the church is to reflect who God is out into the world, always open, always inviting others in to enjoy the love of God. This means that no one is outside God’s embrace and that we’re the hands God will use to do that embracing.
The next great opportunity for invitation is ‘Invitation Sunday’ on 27th September at 9.15 am. More details elsewhere in this magazine.
This autumn will also see a number of Festival follow up events will be taking place. These include the Alpha Course in October and November – a relaxed and friendly way to explore the meaning of life (full details in this magazine and online). There’s the ‘Is God a Delusion’ evening on 13th October at St. David’s, an evening exploring the Science/Religion debate with specially invited experts from throughout the north of England and the ‘Be Still’ sessions on the last Thursday of each month – a chance to find peace in our often frantic lives.
Do you know someone who would benefit from one of these? Do you know someone who might be interested? Perhaps someone who may come along with you on a regular Sunday morning?
Ask God to show you who among those you know you could invite. Ask God for the courage to invite them to come along with you.
Ask God to help you follow the example of Philip.
May He give you the courage to invite someone to begin (or even re-start) the journey to know the love and deep peace of their creator and saviour.
May we all find we can learn to say: ‘Come and See.’
With love in Christ

A couple of years ago, I was travelling on some obscure back roads in the Dales and I was hopelessly lost – so I got out the Sat Nav and plugged it in. Before long I was listening to a voice speaking in perfect Queen's English; they use a Home Counties accent because it sounds more intelligent and you're more likely to do what they say. And it was a woman's voice because.....same thing!

Read more: Sat Nav