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Expressing faith imageMultiple religious belonging was the theme of a joint consultation held by the World Council of Churches (WCC), Council for World Mission and United Reformed Church in Birmingham in December. The consultation at the Queen’s Ecumenical Centre brought together renowned theologians, grassroot interfaith activists and faith group members in panel-based discussions.

Read more: Consultation explores religious identity

tz2ffstnaka reymark franke web‘It’s the church’s perpetual purpose’

The Revd Nigel Uden, Moderator-Elect of the General Assembly, reflects on how we would need an eternity to the do the Epiphany justice.

Epiphany lasts so much longer than Christmas. In the Church’s year that began on Advent Sunday 2016 there is only one ‘Sunday after Christmas’, followed early in 2017 by seven ‘Sundays after Epiphany’. And maybe even seven is not enough.

Read more: Seven Sundays is not enough

Christmas Day 554x415‘Goodness taking human form. Promise in person’
The Revd John Proctor, General Secretary, reflects on a journey of divine love.

New parents will be shown a hospital scan of their baby at a very early stage. A baby the size of a kidney bean (eight weeks, apparently) is already recognisably like a person. Of course there is a long journey ahead. But much of the individual life is forming in a particular way. Already nature has decided individual stories: in years to come, the baby boy will share his father’s build and a grandmother’s face will be ‘copied’ onto that of her grand-daughter. The moment of birth, when it comes, is neither beginning nor end, but a stage on a journey. It releases and makes visible life that has been forming for a while. It creates space for growth and maturity to unfold across the years.

Read more: A journey of divine love

New Years Eve 554x415‘We find a stream of refreshment to counter weariness’
The Revd Richard Church, Deputy General Secretary (Discipleship), expresses hope for a year of renewal and confidence after a tough 2016

By now, many of us have realised that 2017 is a special year because it marks some significant anniversaries for the United Reformed Church.

Every family has its own way of marking special events such as birthdays or Christmas. Some gather for a special meal, some give gifts. Whatever the means we use, these events remind us of who we belong to, where we have come from and what we can bring to the future.

Read more: Feasts, festivals and 2017

Christmas Eve 554x415‘It doesn’t really matter what I’m given’

Alan Yates, General Assembly Moderator, reflects on what is so special about receiving a gift.

I can remember, from my early childhood, the excitement almost reaching a crescendo when we got to Christmas Eve – only a few hours to wait until we would rip the paper off the presents. After a final mince pie for me, and leaving one for Father Christmas, I would go to bed. But sleep nearly always evaded me. I would hear the front door close as my parents left for midnight mass, leaving me with my two older brothers. I would still be awake when they came home and my father prepared his pre-dawn signature Christmas dish of bacon and eggs; something I was able to benefit from in later years.

Read more: Anticipating the most precious gift