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November has been an interesting month for some churches in the Circuit (particularly in Bournemouth) as we explored the book of Jonah following the material written by Rev Tom Stuckey. We saw that Jonah was reluctant to listen to God’s call to mission and famously run the other direction. But we also saw that God was as interested in Jonah’s transformation as in the repentance of the Ninevites, and so the story showed how God prompted and moved Jonah into mission.

We had the chance to think about where we, the church, fit in that story: the times we have been prompted to engage in God’s mission and run away; the times when we  didn’t get our own way and had to go along with the changes even if sulking all the way through (just like Jonah…!) and the times when we saw miraculous transformation and repentance in our lives and the lives of others and grasped, even if for a brief moment, the enormity of  God’s grace and love for all.

November is now gone, and the season of Advent will lead us into other familiar Bible stories. However, I still believe that Jonah has a lot to tell us during Advent about waiting. About waiting patiently. About waiting not so patiently. About crying out to God in despair and being heard. About to whom God reveals Godself and to whom God has come to save. Like many of us, Jonah has expectations about what he should be doing with his life. And like many of us, he doesn’t always respond to God’s call with immediate action and joy. Jonah is a bit of contrast to Elizabeth and Mary who are portrayed as models of waiting in hope and joy-filled expectation. And I love the fact that the Bible gives us characters which are so different and shows us that God works with them all!

Leaving Jonah and his adventure behind, it’s now the time for us to embark in another ADVENTure. You see, it’s no coincidence that Advent (which means ‘arrival of someone important’) is the beginning of the word ‘Adventure’ (which means ‘about to happen’). And here nothing fits better than the words of Eugene Peterson in his translation of John 1:14 for The Message Bible ‘The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood’.  This ‘arrival’ is ‘about to happen again’. The Advent Adventure is upon us!

Faith is indeed an Adventure, it’s a journey into the unknown, leaving the secure and comfortable behind and moving into unfamiliar territory. It was like this with Jesus, with Mary and Joseph, and pretty much everyone who got caught up in this love story. Mary knew from the beginning that life with the Christ-child was not going to be easy… perhaps we should expect it to be no less challenging to live as Christ’s disciples today. After all, we know that when we take the risk of loving, we soon learn the meaning of vulnerability. This is true for all kinds of love: the love for our children, parents, siblings, friends, neighbours, and the love for our communities, strangers and outcasts in our midst.

As a church, every time we rekindle that love spark, our adventure begins, and things start to change! Our pews disappear to make room for our community and other ways of serving; our halls become foodbank warehouse or a cosy B&B for the homeless; our worship areas become a café, or a play room, a space for many encounters, where stories, laughter and tears are shared; our buildings welcome new partners, new guests and we are challenged to do things differently, to let go and let God!

No. Our ADVENTure with this Christ-child is not easy. It’s messy and disturbing. But once we start, there’s no going back! Because not only our buildings are being transformed… we are being transformed. And hopefully, we will do better than Jonah. We will move on from our sulking into spiritual maturity. We will continue to study the Bible and learn together how to be Jesus’ disciples in our communities. We will continue to pray together in order to discern God’s vision for our own lives, our communities and for the life our churches in Poole Bay Circuit.

And so we pray…

Loving God,

Thank you for becoming one with us so that we might become one with you; for entering our world so that we might enter your kingdom.

Speak again in this Advent and Christmas season of your redeeming love, your desire to forgive, renew and restore. Prepare our hearts to listen, to learn, to reflect and to respond.

Give us a vision not just of the future but also of the present. Show us what you would have us do and help us to do it, so that when we pray ‘Your Kingdom come’ we may truly mean it.


Wishing you many blessings this Christmas and New Year,

Deacon Suzie


Dear Friends

Wishing you all a blessed and holy Christmas and a joyous,
healthy and peaceful New Year.

Love Rev Tony
and all at Poole Bay Methodist Circuit