The Manor House has fallen quiet again in the past week as our guests and helpers from the autumn term have left us. As usual, we are on our knees in prayer as we say goodbye to the term, our hearts filled with those who have spent time with us. Some are leaving to face difficult transitions; some are leaving to spend the holidays with family or traveling and then will return for the next term; some are leaving with thankfulness and a sense of purpose for their next chapter; some are leaving with a greater sense of quiet after facing some of their hard questions and issues.
Each person this last term was so precious and for us as workers, we find that letting go of those we have come to care for and love is as important as welcoming them in the first place. For every aspect of this work, we are driven to trust God both with what we know and with what we do not know.
I know that this Christmas season is a time of much fullness, so I will just briefly mention a few prayer points that we would appreciate you joining us in.
Please join us in thankfulness for a full and special autumn term. Highlights include:
Our annual Apple Day, a community workday in which we experienced a true harvest.The annual film festival, which explored themes of exclusion and embrace and provided a wonderful atmosphere of warm and stimulating interaction for our 90-or-so guests.Ellis Potter’s UK book launch for his second book How Do You Know That?—an appropriately beautiful evening culminating with Ellis giving his much appreciated talk on epistemology.Our annual Thanksgiving Day celebrations, which were a wonderful gift to each one of us as we started the day with an incredible brunch, went for a long tramp in the (muddy) English countryside, beautified the Manor with wreaths and candles, played games, shared a delicious traditional Thanksgiving dinner, and then finished our day with a beautiful hour of music and readings. The day made the discipline of being thankful come easily for many of us. As Phillip mentioned in our last newsletter, Josué and Lili Reichow from southern Brazil have been with us for the last year, first as students and then as helpers. We are looking forward to their return as workers in the spring with great thankfulness and excitement, but we ask for your prayers as they head back to Brazil on Christmas Eve to apply for their visas. Pray for the Lord’s provision for them and for this time of transition.
We were thankful to host the L’Abri trustees in early December and are grateful for each of them as they faithfully serve us by sharing together the many pastoral and administrative aspects of this precious international work of L’Abri.
Give thanks for the students who are booked in for next term and for a good helper team. About half a dozen are returning students from this past term. Pray for the Lord’s provision for those who want to spend time here and also that He will bring the people of His choice.
Please give thanks with us for the break we now have. Edith is in Holland; the Pattons and Phillip are with their families in the USA; the Pauls are in South Africa; Marsh and Tuula, who spent time in the early autumn with their son and family in the States, will be here in Greatham; and the Merzeshave Christmas at the Manor (a few games of sardines and murder in the dark are definitely being planned!). Pray for refreshment and renewal and also for health as a number of us are fighting a range of winter illnesses. Pray also forSarah Liechty, who is spending the last part of her well-earned sabbatical in the USA and will be returning to us in the New Year. There is so much close at hand and further afield that is deeply sobering and it is with great hope that we pause to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ into a world gutted with the effects of sin. I have been reading a lot of Dorothy L. Sayers recently and I leave you with one of her reflections on the Incarnation:
"The dogma of the Incarnation is the most dramatic thing about Christianity and indeed, the most dramatic thing that ever entered into the mind of man; but if you tell people so, they look at you in bewilderment.” Speaking to those who consider Christianity to be dull and irrelevant, “It is the dogma that is the drama – not beautiful phrases, not comforting sentiments, nor vague aspirations to loving-kindness and uplift, nor the promise of something nice after death – but the terrifying assertation that the same God who made the world, lived in the world and passed through the grave and gate of death.”
It is with deep thanks that, this Christmas, we celebrate that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Dawn Merz (for all the workers)