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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

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

The United Reformed Church’s education and learning committee held an Extraordinary Meeting on Monday (19 December), in response to the instruction by October 2016 Mission Council, to consider the full implications of ceasing to use the Windermere Centre building. The Windermere Centre is one of four URC Resource Centres for Learning.

Mission Council tasked both the finance, and education and learning committees, to do this work to enable a final decision to be made at the next Mission Council in May 2017.

Read more: The Windermere Centre update

Staff working from Church House are now working across three main locations whilst Church House is being refurbished. We are working hard to make sure we are fully connected as quickly as possible, but please bear with us for the next few days. The phone system is scheduled to be fully working by Monday 9 January. If you need to contact a member of staff before then, please email them directly. Thank you.

Final preparations are now being made for Church House’s six-month refurbishment project, starting in January 2017. Staff are clearing, sorting and packing for the temporary move away from Tavistock Place and are also getting ready for their teams to be dispersed across three different nearby sites.

All telephone calls, emails and post will reach the right people, if you use the usual numbers and addresses.

It will not be possible to drop in on Church House, or on staff, during this period. But if you need to visit a staff member, and arrange this in advance, they will be delighted to see you! The building works are due to finish in June next year and we are promised a building that will be much more accessible and fit for purpose for 2017 – and many years to come. The move will start on Thursday 22 December and we will be settling in to our temporary ‘homes’ during the first week in January so we ask for your understanding, patience and prayers if we do not respond to your calls or emails as swiftly as might be customary. We will do our utmost to ensure that normal service will be resumed as quickly as possible.