Season’s Greetings and a message of hope

Christmas star and 'God With Us' text

Greetings to friends of Pilgrims Hall

As we approach Christmas and the New Year, I want to take the opportunity to wish you Season’s Greetings, share news of Pilgrims Hall and bring a message of hope as 2021 approaches.

This time last year, no-one could have foreseen the tumultuous and unprecedented events that began to envelope the world with the onset of the Covid19 pandemic. Throughout 2020, Governments imposed draconian measures to try to combat the spread of the virus, including the imposition of lockdown measures which, amongst other things, inhibited travel, commerce, work, education, recreation, etc. Normal day-to-day activities were abruptly disrupted.

A heavy price has been paid: churches closed for Christians to gather for public worship, normal human interaction and relationships inhibited, and a surge in business insolvencies, unemployment, financial debt, homelessness, depression, suicides, etc. Sickness, death and bereavement has dominated the news. At present, there seems little prospect of governments changing their draconian measures anytime soon.

The Covid19 crisis impacted upon Pilgrims Hall. We had to suspend activities for much of the year. Although some resumed in the summer, they stopped again when the second lockdown was introduced. We also experienced a sudden loss of income which detrimentally affected our finances. We were disappointed and frustrated not to have been able to fully serve people who wanted to avail themselves of our ministry and facilities, especially at a time they were needed most. Despite this, we are grateful to the Lord for the opportunities we did have to minister to people spiritually and pastorally.

Our resident team, who shoulder much of the day-to-day work, worked tirelessly throughout the year and we are most grateful for their service. We are also appreciative of the volunteers who helped in the house and grounds and my fellow Trustees who are responsible for governing Pilgrims Hall and had to confront these new and challenging circumstances. We are especially thankful for the Lord’s faithful provision of unexpected funds which partially reduced our financial deficit thus avoiding, for the time being, the need to make potentially difficult decisions to align income and costs.

Looking forward…

We still face uncertainty as to how and when Pilgrims Hall may fully operate given the on-going restrictions. The Rendezvous Tea Room and bookshop have recently reopened and bookings can be made for the use of Retreat rooms. Wherever possible we will resume other activities and facilities as soon as it is lawful and safe to do so.

We are currently planning a new ministry programme under the banner of ‘Preparing for Jesus’ Return’ and, hopefully, in the New Year will be able to announce details about this. In the meantime, we would value your prayers for the life and work of Pilgrims Hall in these testing times. We will keep you informed of developments through the website and email.

A time to celebrate

It is against the background of the Covid19 crisis that Christians will be celebrating in this Advent season the coming of Jesus Christ as a baby in Bethlehem just over 2,000 years ago. As we try to make sense of the pandemic and everything that’s happened over this past year, we are reminded that Christ’s incarnation—of God becoming man—is a central tenet of Christianity. In his book ‘Knowing God’, the late J I Packer comments as follows:

“Here are two mysteries for the price of one—the plurality of persons [Father, Son and Holy Spirit] within the unity of God and the union of the Godhead and manhood in the person of Jesus. It is here, in the thing that happened at the first Christmas, that the profoundest and most unfathomable depths of the Christian revelation lie: ‘The Word became flesh’; God became man; the divine Son became a Jew; the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless babe…”

In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul describes Christ’s humbling of himself as follows:

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Despite all that is happening in our world at this time, our hope this Christmas is found in the supreme act of God becoming man and in Christ’s redemptive work at Calvary. Just as important, our hope is also in the promise of His Second Coming and the time when everyone shall acknowledge him as Lord. His birth was in lowly circumstances and largely unrecognised but his coming again will be in glory and triumph and every eye shall see Him. Although we shouldn’t engage in speculating the date of Christ’s return, nonetheless, so much of what is now happening globally, including responses to the Covid19 crisis, are unprecedented in history which suggest His Second Coming is drawing ever closer, so we cry ‘come Lord Jesus, come’.

Whatever your present circumstances and the impact the Covid19 crisis has had upon you, I urge you to hold onto our hope in the living Lord Saviour. In that context, I wish you a Happy Christmas and New Year. For your encouragement, I conclude with verses of scripture from Titus 2:

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Graham Bridger
Chair of Trustees

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