Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas has begun at St Paul's!

Christmas began at St Paul's with a Christingle service on Christmas Eve afternoon. With a congregation swelled by visitors – occasional friends from the locality and family and friends visiting church members for Christmas – 120 people gathered together.

The service began as Steve, our vicar, read the Christmas story and different children brought forward the figures of Joseph, Mary, the baby Jesus, the Shepherds and Sheep and the Wise Men and Steve added each to the crib scene.

Steve teased the children as he then made a Christingle with the wrong components (Apple instead of orange, blue ribbon instead of red etc.)! But he could not fool the children, as they knew that it was an orange that represented the world that God created; that the sweets and raisins on cocktail sticks represented the harvest of the four seasons; that the red ribbon represented the blood of Christ who died for us so that we might be forgiven our sins; that the candle on the top represented Jesus who is the light of the world.

Everyone then received their own their own Christingle. As the lights were turned off, all the Christingles were lit and we sang the Christingle song, which explains its meaning.

This may have been a service with children at the centre, but what they celebrated is, indeed, the real meaning of Christmas. May all the other services this Christmastide share the same truth and joy!

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Christmas is Coming

It's only just over a week until Christmas. Everybody is probably only too aware of that, with presents to buy and food to prepare. But in our busyness, it's important that we don't forget the reason for Christmas – that Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth as a fully human baby who shared human joys and sorrows and explained what God wanted us to be, before being executed on a cross.

So it's only right that we should meet together to worship him at this time. But it's also great fun – with candles and carols and Christmas readings. From now on, all our services will have a Christmas theme. But below are some special ones:

7.0pm on Sunday 18 December we have the Service of Lessons and Carols by Candlelight. By the light flickering candles, we will be singing the much loved Christmas Carols, as well as listening to the Choir’s contributions and hearing the Christmas Story and other readings on that theme.

4.0pm on Christmas Eve, 24 December. At the short Christingle service, which is suitable for all the family, we remember the Christmas story, helped by the Christingles which symbolise the meaning of the baby in the manger – the Christ child. Then we take away those Christingles as a memento.

11.30pm on Christmas Eve, 24 December. The first service of Christmas Day is our reflective service of Holy Communion when we remember Christ's love for the world both in his birth and in his sacrifice of himself on the cross.

10.0 am on Christmas Day, 25 December is our service of Family Communion, which is suitable for all the family. Again, we will be singing those much loved Christmas Carols. Do bring your toys!

We hope that you will be able to join us for at least one of these services.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Time for gifts.

It's now the third Sunday of Advent – Advent, when we are looking forward to the gift of Jesus at Christmas – the greatest gift of all. Jesus, who came as the Saviour of the world, and whose return we also look forward to.

Many will be looking forward to the gifts that they will receive this Christmas. But this was our opportunity to give to those in much greater need than ourselves. The congregation gave 71 items for organisations such as "Action Homeless" to give as gifts to the children in their projects.

Jonathan Cryer, a representative from Action Homeless thanked the congregation for their gifts and described the plight of the people in their care and how these gifts will bring joy to their children this Christmas.

So many of the people at St Paul's wanted to contribute that we had more offers than the charities were able to use, so other people brought gifts for the "Welcome Project" which helps destitute asylum seekers.

As we have been given so much, may we share it with others.