Dear Minster and Friends,
Is Christmas only for Christians?
Is Christmas for the children, or the families with children?
Or for the wealthy and the hopeful, or the naturally merry who never get down?
Am I disqualified if I don’t have good cheer or not enough in the bank for splendid gifts…
Is Christmas for those who grew up in the northern hemisphere, who hunker down for snow…
And what about those from Australia and southern Africa who sunbathe in December?
Do I need to ‘feel christmassy’ in order to ‘Do Christmas’ effectively?
Who does Christmas belong to?
The angels were clear when they pierced the night sky with their carols that Christ is for everyone, the Saviour is for the whole world:
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”
And this has been the Christian Gospel ever since – and it remains both surprising and subversive. When the famous missionary, William Carey, first went to India he was given strict instructions by the East India Company that there were certain passages he was banned from reading in public or preaching from.
Number one on their hit list was ‘The Magnificat’ – also known as the Song of Mary; the song she sang, full of the Holy Spirit in receiving the news from an angel that she would bear a Messiah:
“He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the humble, he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.”
Those that were mighty and on their thrones, those who were rich didn’t want an alternative narrative of God’s affection getting through to their subjects and their employees – this text was considered too dangerous for Indians to grapple with. I am happy to say that William Carey, and every true preacher of the gospel, resolutely ignored this prohibition and wherever the gospel is preached this ancient Song of Mary is sung and remembered – and it brings us fresh hope as it did to her.
It should be impossible to ever wonder who Christmas is really for – the setting of teenage parents, a stable for a birth room, and internally displaced persons and refugees, and shepherds on minimum wage, and God’s miracle good news breaking in. It is clear – if you are feeling ‘non christmassy’, humble or humiliated, even alone and poor – if you are Jew or Gentile, young or old – this great Joy is for ALL PEOPLE…and that includes you, and it includes your neighbours and friends.
So may I wish you the very merriest of Christmases, and an incredibly Happy New Year.
With every Blessing
CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR TIMINGS
No Morning service.
2:30pm – 3:30pm – Free Donkey rides for children.
3:30pm – 4:30pm – A live Nativity Service – Amy Orr-Ewing as our Preacher.
Over the last few years Amy Orr-Ewing has been greatly in demand at carol services – only a few days ago preaching at the Houses of Parliament Carol Service in the Westminster. Her short talk will be interesting and inspiring and suitable for anyone.
The service will have our three resident donkeys (Molly, Daisy, Rosie) and many sheep actually inside the tent – and so we recommend that those with small children who want a good view arrive a little earlier and take advantage of the donkey rides.
Family Communion Service
10:30am – 11:30am
31st December. New Years Eve.
There is a walk planned on New Year’s Day from 1:30pm from The Royal Standard pub, followed by lunch at 3:30pm. If you would like to join for lunch, please email firstname.lastname@example.org as she has booked a table.
The church office will be closed for a few days from Tues 26th – Sun 31st December.
There will be pastoral care cover from Dan Joy – so please phone 07824 438 018 if you need urgent help or advice.
We will be back as normal on Sun 7th Jan, with children’s church.
After the service on Sun 7th we will be taking down our Christmas decorations and would appreciate as much help as possible.