Sunday, 25 December 2016

A Noisy Christmas

The church was again well filled for the Christmas Day Family Communion Service. Steve observed that in contrast to the carol “Silent Night” that first Christmas was full of activity, much of it noisy – with angels singing, sheep bleating, cows lowing and a newborn baby screaming. What was important was that this was a Holy Night when Jesus came as saviour of the world.

We celebrated afterwards with Sherry (or soft drinks)

The People Walking in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light

At 11.30 p.m. people again gathered at St Paul’s for the Midnight Communion Service. The same message of Christ’s coming to earth was celebrated in a quieter and more reflective mood. The sermon reflected on the verse from Isaiah: “the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.” and St John’s reflection that “people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.” Nevertheless, in Jesus, God still offers his love, his light and life in all its fullness.

The message was reinforced as we left church on a very dark night when many of the streetlights had been turned off.

The Light of the World

At 4.0 p.m. on Christmas Eve  the church was packed with children and families, as they gathered for the Annual Crib and Christingle service. Children playing Mary and Joseph stood in the stable that had been recently built while videos were played that had been recorded by members of our young people’s group, giving the feelings of the individuals in the Christmas story.

The Christingles – oranges representing the world that God created, with cocktail sticks bearing fruits representing the four seasons with a red ribbon representing Christ’s death on the cross, and a central camera representing Christ as the light of the world – were then distributed and lit, while the lights were turned off. Then we send the carol “O Little town of Bethlehem” which includes the line “In the dark street shineth the everlasting light.”

After drinks and biscuits the adults and youngsters went home to await Christmas.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Holiday Club Christmas

This afternoon we welcomed a great group of young people to our Holiday Club Christmas afternoon! We did lots of crafts, games, watched a film, thought about the nativity story and ate tea together.
Many thanks to all who came and to those who worked hard to make it happen. A good time was had by all.
Do come and visit us again for our Crib & Christingle service at 4pm on Christmas Eve.

Carols by Candlelight

Sunday at 7.0 p.m. saw the start of our series of Christmas services, with the Candlelit Carol Service. With handheld candles and additional Candlelight around the church, we celebrated the story of Christmas, in words and music.

The series of lessons read by different members of the congregation reminded us how humanity had rejected God’s standards, but how he had sent Jesus, his son, to redeem the fallen world and restore fellowship with him. The mix of traditional congregational carols and choir items took us through that same sequence.

The brief address from our vicar, Steve, encouraged us to look beyond the baby to the one who died at Calvary and wants to be our Saviour. He then led us in prayer for our fallen troubled world.

Those who stayed around afterwards enjoyed mulled wine and mince pies.

Our next step in remembrance of the Christmas story is the Christingle and Crib service at 4.0 p.m. on Christmas Eve, followed by the Midnight Communion at 11.30 p.m.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

A Stable in Church

St Pauls is incredibly indebted to one of its members, Derek Bowering, who gets involved in many of the practical projects around church. And most weeks he makes partly completed models that the children in Supertroopers (our Sunday School) complete. Each illustrates a message from what they have been learning about.

His present project is rather bigger – a stable at the front of church, to illustrate the Christmas story, and contain the crib with the representation of the baby Jesus. Derek tried to illustrate the poverty of that first Christmas by making the stable with offcuts of wood that the congregation had provided. The result is magnificent – although with Derek’s impeccable  standards – the stable is still probably too neat for the Christmas story!

It stands at the front of St Pauls. Do come and see it at one of the Christmas services: –   7.0 p.m., Sunday 18 December: the Candlelit Carol Service.   4.0 p.m., Saturday 24: December: Christingle and Crib Service.   11.30 p.m., Saturday 24 December: Midnight Communion Service.   10.0 a.m., Sunday 25 December: Christmas Day Family Communion.

May the stable help us to remember the cost to Jesus of becoming human like us.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Gifts for Children

Today was our Annual Gift Service. For several years St Paul’s has had contact with homes containing children who can look forward to a bleak Christmas. These include homes for vulnerable adults and battered wives, who often have children with them. We currently have contact with five such homes, which expect 65 children by Christmas. Because of the nature of their work, we are unable to name them. Our concern is to provide some joy for the children in these homes at Christmas time.

One of the charities responsible for some of these homes is Action Homeless. Although they cannot name their homes, they describe their work as follows: “Action Homeless has been helping people and families affected by homelessness for over 40 years. Based in the heart of Leicester, we are committed to supporting people of all ages who are at risk of or facing homelessness in our local community. Quite simply, we provide people with homes whilst helping them to develop the skills and the means necessary to leave homelessness behind for good.”
At St Paul’s, a few weeks in advance, we give out gift tags to the congregation with the age and sex of each of the 65 children concerned. All the gift tags were taken and appropriate gifts bought and wrapped. The gifts were brought up at the Annual Gift Service today.

There was also an opportunity to give unwrapped gifts, a mixture of essential clothes and luxuries to the Welcome Project, for asylum seekers, run at St Martin’s house in central Leicester.
We received very generous gifts towards both these causes.
May the gifts bring joy at Christmas time when we celebrate the gift of Jesus, the gift above all others.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Christmas Assemblies

This past week Lou and I have been in our local High School, Manor, taking their Christmas assemblies. We have used this clip from Southland Christian Church where the kids narrate and the adults act the story. We hope and pray that this retelling of the Christmas story has helped them to focus on Jesus who is the reason for the season.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

School Visit

Today we welcomed the Early Years Foundation Stage from Brookside Primary School to St Paul's. They brought their home made star decorations and put them on our tree - thank you. They listened to the Christmas story, explored the crib scene, the baby in the manger and the advent calender's. Before they left they sang beautifully Away in a Manger.