Saturday, December 16, 2017

A child is born 16: The birth of Samson


Now be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, or to eat anything unclean, for you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor is to come on his head, for the boy shall be a nazirite to God from birth . It is he who shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines. (13.4-5)

The story of the birth of Samson is another story of a childless couple who eventually have a special baby, but in this case, there is no manoeuvring or manipulating. Manoah’s wife, who isn’t named, is visited by an angel and told she will conceive. Her husband doesn’t seem to believe her, but the when the angel appears to him too his is finally convinced. If that reminds us of the stories of the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, it is probably meant to. The writers of their birth stories appear to have modelled them on stories like these.

Manoah and his wife are told that their child is to be a “nazirite”, someone set apart for a special purpose. The first verse of the passage sets the scene; Israel is under attack by the Philistines, a warlike tribe which threatens their existence. Samson will be given extraordinary strength to lead the fight against them. You can read the rest of his story in Judges 14-16.

The people of the Bible had only the vaguest idea of how babies were conceived, and they viewed every baby as a gift of God, a miracle. The conception of children like Samson was simply a bit more miraculous than most – a sign that they were set aside for some special purpose.

·         Are there any stories in your family of “miraculous” births, babies whose conception or birth defied the odds?
·         What do you think the effects of knowing you are a “miracle” baby might be on the child as it grows up?

·         Some children’s lives seem set on a particular course from an early stage, for good or ill. They may have a particular talent and feel duty bound to develop it, or they may have been told that they “will never amount to anything” and feel that their future can never hold out any hope. Pray that all children might be free to find God’s purpose for their lives.

Friday, December 15, 2017

A child is born 15: Jochebed gives birth to Moses


The woman conceived and bore a son: and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him , and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river.

At the beginning of the second chapter of Exodus, we meet a nameless woman who has a nameless son. He could be any one of the Hebrew babies whom Pharaoh is trying to get rid of. This is “anywoman”, and “anybaby”. There is nothing at all unusual about this woman. She feels just as most mothers would about their children in this situation, a fierce love and protectiveness. There is nothing unusual about the child either. He is vulnerable and helpless. We aren’t told until verse 10 that this is Moses, the child who will grow up to lead his people out of slavery and back to the Promised Land from which their ancestors came. The mother’s name, we discover in Exodus 6.20, is Jochebed.

But she isn’t the only mother in the story. Pharaoh’s daughter, who takes pity on the child she finds and takes him under her protection, acts as a mother to Moses, as do her attendants, who must realise the truth, but keep it to themselves. Miriam, his big sister, also keeps a motherly eye on him. There is a whole network of mothering around Moses, which enables him to survive into adulthood.

·         Imagine you are Moses’ mother, making the papyrus basket in which you will entrust him to the crocodile infested river Nile. What might you be thinking and feeling as you weave it?

·         Who nurtured and protected you as a child? Did you have more than one “mother”, as Moses did?

·         Pray for those who “mother” other people’s children – other family members, foster parents, friends, neighbours, teachers, children’s group leaders etc


Thursday, December 14, 2017

December news from Rochester Diocese

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Thursday 14 December, 2017

Welcome to the December edition of Rochester Diocese's new monthly e-newsletter. Thank you for subscribing!

News in Brief

Your stories from around the Diocese

Doing the Labyrinth walk 
A mother and son team brought an interactive feel to the ancient practice of Labyrinth walking at a recent event in St. George's, Weald. They hope to inspire others too. Read more

New Anna Chaplain for Bromley
Rev Sophie Sutherland commissioned to work with the elderly and those coping with Dementia. Read more
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Baby Jesus Rocks
Pebbles painted to look like the baby Jesus, and left around the parish of Strood for people to discover, are adding a creative twist to one church's festive outreach. Read more 

Mobile Cathedral
Church schools help Rochester Cathedral sparkle with their Christmas mobile designs. Read more

Diocesan Update
All you need to know this month from the Diocese and National Church


New vision launched 
Hundreds gathered at Rochester Cathedral to celebrate the launch of Called Together, the new five year vision for the Diocese of Rochester.  Events in each archdeaconry will take place early in the New Year.  Read more.

Hope in Rochester - 2018
Throughout 2018, the Diocese will be helping inspire, encourage, upskill and resource churches to be more confident in sharing the hope they have in Jesus with their communities through their words and actions. With a variety of workshops, courses and events planned, there will be lots of ways to get involved. Read more


Share your story
We hope you're enjoying the Christmas edition of Link. From January we want to share more of  your news and stories for If you have something you think others would like to know about then get in touch to: editorial@rochester.anglican.org 
We also have our Facebook and Twitter feeds, where we can share news too, so it is definitely worth getting in touch.



  • Bishop's Guidelines: Calling all clergy. Got a question about your stipend? Need to know what happens if you are called for Jury service? Then the updated Bishop's guidelines are for you. Find them here
  • New A Church Near You:  National Church has launched a new look for this popular site. Read more


Resources

Top resources to support you in your work, life and faith - or just to share with others.

#GodWithUs
The National Church's Advent Campaign, #GodWithUs is now in full swing. You can still sign up for daily reflections and new videos are being regularly posted on the website. More here.

GOD IS STRANGER
Home for Good
Home for Good is a Christian organisation that campaigns to ensure that every child who needs one, has a home. This video shows how 'welcome to the stranger' is at the heart of the Christmas story.


Events and Training


  • Stewardship Training - Become more confident in running stewardship campaigns. Sessions on 24th Jan and 6 February. More here 

Vision and Aims


Growing Disciples - one of our three priorities

Vacancies and appointments

Positions vacant in each archdeaconry
Lay and Volunteer posts

New appointments in the Diocese:
  • Mell Jemmett Vicar at Lamorbey, Holy Redeemer from 08.11.17
  • Emma Young Vicar at Darent Valley from 19.11.17
  • Johnny Douglas Vicar at Swanley St Paul & Hextable St Peter (S)  from 29.01.18
  • Alison Healy  Associate Vicar at Sidcup St John; Footscray from TBC
  • Jane Winter  Diocesan Formation, Learning & Discipleship Facilitator from 01.01.2018



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