Viewpoint by Revd Christopher Brown, pastor of Market Harborough Baptist Church
It’s been almost three months since we opened our Renew Wellbeing café here at the Baptist Church, which is a quiet shared space where it’s ok not be ok. Over that time a real community has formed, and continues to form, as different people from different backgrounds and experiences meet to share something of life together.
It varies from talking with one another over a coffee, adding a few pieces to the community jigsaw puzzle, sitting quietly in the company of others, sharing homemade sausage rolls, or exploring faith and spirituality in peaceful prayer.
In this season of Advent when we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, I am reminded that one of the names for Jesus in the Bible is Emmanuel, which means “God with us”. I think this year, more than ever before, I have felt the deep truth of this name. As we have met in the café, as we have formed new relationships and new community, I have sensed that God has been with us in a very real way.
And that is not just in the times of peaceful prayer, but also in the talking and the listening, in the welcoming and the brewing of hot drinks, in the sharing of stories, talents and passions, and even in the placing of jigsaw pieces in the right (and sometimes wrong) places.
When God came to be with us in Jesus, he was born into poverty, hardship, and struggle, and in his life Jesus knew rejection, betrayal and loss, as well as deep joy and laughter, friendship, love and happiness. And so, this Christmastime, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, we are reminded that the God who is with us knows what it’s like to be us, to experience what we experience, to walk the unsteady pathways we do through this life.
And because of this, we can know that God isn’t “out there somewhere”, but is right here with us in all things. As Jesus promised himself, “and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). I pray that as we journey through Advent, as we celebrate Christmas, and as we move into the New Year, we will all know that God is with us in all things and we will experience his love, grace and peace.
The Renew Wellbeing café is open on Tuesdays 9am-12noon, and on Thursdays 1-4pm, and everyone is welcome. To find out more visit www.mhbaptistchurch.org/renew-wellbeing.
Revd Christopher Brown is the pastor of Market Harborough Baptist Church