Sunday, December 17, 2017

A child is born 17: Hannah gives birth to Samuel

Hannah said; “for this child I prayed and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him.”

Hannah was one of the two wives of Elkanah, but while Peninah has many children, Hannah is childless. It is a recipe for rivalry and ill-treatment, as we have already discovered in earlier stories. Desperate, Hannah prays at the shrine at Shiloh. (Jerusalem has not become the capital yet, and there is no temple.) Her prayers are so intense that the old priest, Eli, thinks she is drunk. When he hears her story he is moved and prays that God will grant her prayer. When her child is born, she names him Samuel, which may be a play on the Hebrew word “listen”.

It may surprise us that, as soon as the child is weaned, Hannah brings him to Eli to be brought up at the shrine. He is another ‘nazirite’ , like Samson (see yesterday), with a special purpose to fulfil. Samuel’s job will be to listen for and proclaim the word of God to a people who have forgotten what it sounds like.

·         What do you think of Hannah giving Samuel to Eli to bring up? Why might she feel she needs to do this? Could you have done it?

·         Are there times in your life when you have desperately wanted something? Did you get what you wanted? Did you tell anyone about your desire, or keep it to yourself? Did you tell God about it?

·         Pray for parents who are separated from their children, by choice or unavoidable circumstances, and for children separated from their parents. 

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, that's not surprising.. 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.

Eventually Samson would be captured by the Philistines, having given away the secret of his strength to Delilah. He had started to assume that it was his gift to do what he wanted with, rather than the the gift of God, given for the service of his people. Ultimately, though, as a prisoner, "eyeless in Gaza" his strength returns, and he destroys his captors, their temple, and himself. It is a brutal end which may shock us now - maybe it seems too much  like the actions of a modern day suicide bomber. At the time it was written though, it would have been seen at the time as an inspiring sign of his devotion to God.

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

Having trouble reading this? View it in your browser

For a printable version which can be pinned to your noticeboard, please click here

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
This is a text block. You can use it to add text to your temlate.

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: 
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


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

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.

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

Copyright © 2017 DIocese of Rochester, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in via our website.

Our contact details are:
DIocese of Rochester
Boley Hill
Rochester, Kent ME1 1BH
United Kingdom

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp