All Saints

Wickham Market

January 2024

January 7th

Contrary to popular belief, the 3 wise men were not part of the nativity scene.  In fact it could have been up to 2 years after Jesus’ birth that Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar (not their real names!) rocked up bearing their gifts.  In fact there may not even have been 3 of them, we just assume so because of their 3 different gifts.

The day we celebrate this is the 6th January which the Church calls Epiphany and, before the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, used to be the day Christmas was celebrated; which is why the day is still sometimes known as ‘Old Christmas Day’.

So what about those gifts then? Strange enough gifts to give a new born let alone a toddler!  But the gifts reflected what the oriental men understood about the prophesied coming King (Jesus’ kingship, his sacrificial offering and his death).  They also said something about the giver - those gifts were incredibly costly - they were giving up part of their treasure! 

The things we treasure most are often the hardest things to give to God.  It may be our time, or our talents - not necessarily financially valuable things but still costly!

As the words of the Christmas carol challenge us:

If I were a wise man, I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give him, give Him my heart.

Is our giving of ourselves – in response to our lavish God - costly?



I’m having a bit of a battle with ivy in my new garden.  It is everywhere - crawling through the grass, the flowerbeds, up the fences and choking the trees.  A lot of it is relatively easy to pull out, it has long trailers and is only loosely connected at a few points with the earth beneath and, whilst it takes some time, once I’ve got a firm hold, great long lengths just come away.


The stuff that is binding itself around plants or has it’s roots much deeper in the ground, takes a little more persuasion.  But with persistence and a bit of brute force, I’m making my way through that as well.


The hardest type is the ivy that has been wrapped around large old tree trunks for a long time, is well rooted and has a really firm grip with all those ‘hairy’ little fibres; it has also grown too thick to be cut with just my trusty secateurs.


I asked myself, if I were ivy and ‘life’ was hacking away at me, would I be like the young immature stuff that easily pulls away from it’s source of nourishment, often breaking in the process?  Or can I say I’m a bit more mature and have ‘bound’ myself to God with a more persevering and enduring faith?


Our Bible passage this Sunday (Hebrews 6) talks about growing our faith as opposed to slipping away.  So that rather than being pulled up and burnt as useless, we should be maturing to the point that our hope in God is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.  No amount of hacking should be able to uproot us from his solid foundation or tear us away from his strong hold.


If something (or someone!) is trying to uproot you this week, keep holding on tight with every fibre of your being, because God has bound himself to us with an oath that cannot be broken!


January 21st

Most of us know people who have a presence about them - when they walk into a room you know about it, everyone notices; the sort of person who can affect the mood of a group - if he’s up we’re all jolly, if he’s down there’s an atmosphere.  I don’t know what it is - big personality? Extrovert perhaps? But you know what I’m talking about.

This week’s bible passage (Hebrews 7) introduces us to the High Priest Melchizedek.  He had presence!  The great Patriarch Abraham was returning from a victorious battle when he met him and immediately handed over a tenth of the spoils to this Priest! A bit further on, he is described as being like Jesus - vs 15 in ‘The Message’ translation says: “Jesus [was] a priest like Melchizedek, not by genealogical descent but by the sheer force of resurrection life—he lives!”


Archbishop Welby once described his conversion experience this way: “I put my life in his [Jesus’] hands and my life has never been the same; a presence came in and everything was transformed.”  


That is “the sheer force of resurrection life”! Jesus is the big personality, the one who has the power and the presence to affect us all.  Something happens when Jesus comes in, something we notice, something real, something that makes us want to hand over our prize pickings! Jesus has Presence!  If your experience of him is only paper-thin, invite him in, open the do
January 28th

How often do you hear people say “they don’t make things like they used to”, or “things aren’t made to last anymore”?  It’s rather an odd thought that anything should be built to last… last how long exactly? a month, a year, 10 years, a lifetime?  Well it depends what it is I suppose. 


Anything that involves some sort of technology is never going to last very long because engineers and designers and scientists are always coming up with some improvement on the last version and of course, they want you to buy the very latest!  Think of the iPhone - what version are we on now??  These things are not made to last on purpose because otherwise there would be no desire or need for a superior one!


Plus, time moves on.  Knowledge increases.  Experience teaches us better ways and we develop our thinking around safety, comfort, economy.  New discoveries necessitate new versions.  If the old had been faultless it wouldn’t need replacing!  Think of the way the passenger-carrying aeroplane has developed since the 1950’s or the car since the late 19th Century!  We wouldn’t still want to be travelling in Karl Benz’ bumpy, cold, 3-wheeler or the Comet Jet Airliner!


And then there are things that don’t last because we misuse them, like fossil fuels or the Amazon Rain Forest or a marriage!!


So when I was contemplating God’s Old and New Covenant (this week’s Bible reading from Hebrews 8) and wondering why he made the Old Covenant in the first place, it occurred to me that the reason could be ‘all of the above’.  God knew we would not hold to our side of the original Covenant, he knew we would mess things up.  He also wanted us to discover the limitations of the Old Covenant so that we continued to desire something better and he knew he had a superior version up his sleeve!  The Old version was faulty, out of date and it needed replacing, it wasn’t built to last.  God had the ultimate design planned in the New Covenant, which was instigated through Jesus Christ.  This one can never be superseded or spoilt and it will last for Eternity.  We just need to buy into it!

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