Sunday, 2 December 2018

No crib for a bed…

It’s a cause of great frustration that we’re facing Advent, Christmas and the New Year without any heating in our church. Good to report that funds for the work have increased during the last month. But there’s still a way to go, and we still need the official permissions to do the work - and agreement on just what we are going to do with a new system!

So how will we celebrate Christmas? The answer, I hope, is with joy! We’ll miss the church, we’ll miss being able to decorate it. But we celebrate God reaching out to his world in Jesus - and he comes into the world as the most vulnerable of creatures: a child entirely dependent on the love and provision of two human beings, Mary and Joseph; a child born away from the comforts of a home (let alone the provisions of a hospital), and laid in a manger used to feed animals because that was the best available alternative to a cot. Without the regular use of the church I think of as my spiritual home, I need to recognise how God comes into our world as a homeless child. And not for long can he settle even in Bethlehem - before long, Mary and Joseph will have to flee from the attention of Herod. From his earliest years Jesus knows what it is to be a refugee.

We at least will be able to hold services just across the road in the Hall. It’s not the same, but it makes us think… And we do intend to use the church on Christmas Eve for our 6pm Carol Service with Christingles. Wrap up warmly and make sure that the church is so full that we don’t feel the cold!

We won’t be having our usual Midnight Mass. But after the Christingle we hope as many people as possible will go over to Castleside to join the people of St. John’s for their Vigil Mass of Christmas. They’ve moved the service back to 8.30pm to give us time to finish our 6pm service and then move on.

There’ll be the usual Christmas morning service at 9.30am - back in the Hall. It’ll be strange. But it was a strange thing that shepherds found and angels proclaimed. What will Jesus find in the way we celebrate his birth?
Martin Jackson

From the December-January double issue of the Parish Magazine; click to find it online

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