North Wiltshire Methodist Circuit

We are a discipleship movement shaped for mission

My wife, Jane, our daughter Hannah and I are looking forward to our first Christmas in the North Wiltshire Circuit. We arrived here from Broadstairs, Kent. We have been warmly welcomed by all those whom we have met from round the circuit, the other churches in the area, our neighbourhood and  Marlborough, where we are living, and beyond.

 As we have experienced Wiltshire hospitality, I am sure that a warm welcome awaits everyone who visits our circuit’s towns and villages in the next few weeks. Friends and strangers will be welcomed in the shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs, social centres and, of course, all of the churches. The churches are looking forward to welcoming you as we gather to sing carols, listen to choirs and hear the good news of the birth of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, our Lord, Saviour and Friend.

 Welcome, hospitality and love are at the heart of the events of that first Christmas. Mary bore Jesus in her womb, and is known in some parts of the world as the “Christ-bearer”. Joseph, who was engaged to Mary and did not know what to do when he discovered that she was pregnant, welcomed Mary into his family after receiving a message from God in a dream. When Joseph went with Mary to Bethlehem to register in the Roman census, his family welcomed them into their home. The guest room may have been full, but Joseph’s family did the best they could and made them warm and comfortable in the animals’ room in the house. The shepherds and the Magi were also welcomed into the humble dwelling to see the new born King.

They saw the baby in a make-shift crib in the manger, worshipped him and left praising God.

Welcome

 As we celebrate Christmas this year, we are all invited once again to look into the manger, see the child and leave praising God knowing that “God so loved the world that he sent his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life”, (John 3:16). The child grew up and showed us the way to God, our heavenly Father. He died on the cross and rose again to bring us forgiveness, life in all its fullness, eternal life. When we realise this, we receive the greatest welcome of all, as God welcomes us, like a father welcomes home his long lost child.

 This life changing relationship with God begins with the birth of Jesus. That’s worth celebrating. Happy Christmas!

 May you know the welcome of the circuit’s churches this Christmas, but most of all may you know the welcome, peace and love of God through meeting Jesus.

 Stephen Skinner