After the Christmas Tree Festival, at 4.00 p.m. on Sunday 14th December, it was the turn of St. Mark’s Church to have their Carol Service which turned out to be a lovely experience by the light of the Christmas trees. The service was lead by Rev. Eileen who was unwilling to be outdone by Andy’s riddles!
So she interspersed the carols and readings with children’s comments. So, for example, at the beginning of the Carol service she quoted,
“We took our grandchildren with some of their pals to a carol service. One of them asked: “Where’s Carol?””;
Then after the reading from Genesis 3 v 1-15, “The Fall – The Beginning of Sin”, we heard,
“A little boy opened the big and old family Bible with fascination, and looked at the old pages as he turned them. Suddenly, something fell out of the Bible, and he picked it up and looked at it closely. It was an old leaf from a tree that had been pressed in between the pages.
“Mum look what I found,” the boy called out. “What have you got there, dear?” his mother asked. With astonishment in the young boy’s voice, he answered: “I think it’s Adam’s suit!””
At some points Eileen hadn’t found a suitable joke. So, she adopted Andy’s “I’ll give you a clue” approach when announcing some of the carols. This proved to be more comedic than challenging, as the numbers of the carols were up on the board, so most people knew what the carol was before the clue had even been given!!!
For me the cutest joke was the last one, which Eileen told after the final lesson, John 1:1-14, Jesus is the word made Flesh.
Eileen said, “When asked who was Jesus, Jay, five, replied, “Jesus was a king and he wore a crown even though he was a baby. It was a really small crown””.
I understand that The Good Shepherd Mission was full, on the morning of the 15th and the evening of the 16th of December, as parents and family came along to watch the school concert of the pupils of Pinfold School. Every child in the school took part and lots of laughter singing and education took place as the pupils brought to us the history of the Romans. Also, if you looked carefully, you could see a couple of tears of pride by family members as they watched their little ones. And proud they should be as the cast reminded us of “What the Romans did for us”. It was clear that a lot of hard work had been put in by both the staff at the school and all the pupils. The children spoke and sang with confidence as they depicted life in the times of the Romans. Well done Mrs Gillison and everybody at Pinfold School – a brilliant production!
Normal services resumed on the Sunday 21st December and then Christmas Eve was another busy day.
At 4.00 p.m. the church was full for the Christingle service. Eileen led the service and reminded us about the Children’s Society for whom we were making the collection! [As it turned out we raised a magnificent £352.71 for the Children’s Society.]
Then Sal reminded us of the Biblical Symbolism encapsulated in the Christingle. (To do this she used some large props that members of OYM – the after school club – had helped to make!)
The explanations of the various elements of the Christingle were supported by Biblical references.
The orange represents the whole world:- Psalm 89 v 11 “The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it.”
The red band around the orange represents The blood of Christ shed for us:- John 3 v 16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
The candle represents Jesus, “The light of the world”:- John 8 v 12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.””
But the candle also reminds us that we are to be God’s light in the world:- Matthew 5 v 14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
The four sticks represent the four seasons:- Genesis 8 v 22 “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
And finally the sweets and sultanas represented the fruits of the earth and, by extension all that God provides for us:- Mathew 6 v 25-33 (Feel free to look it up!)
We then lit each other’s candle as Eileen passed the flame from the Easter candle.
When all were safely in place, the main lights were switched off and we sang Away in a Manger by the light of the trees and the candles. It was beautiful and brought a lump to my throat!
Midnight Holy Communion at St Mark’s was a quieter thoughtful service, which was well attended. Eileen reported that “it was lovely to share Communion in the dimmed light of the church, with the added twinkling of the Christmas Tree lights giving an extra glow; and it was really nice to see friends from neighbouring churches joining us to share in this special family meal as we celebrated together the greatest gift given to us in love from our Holy Father.”
Many were up bright and early at the Good Shepherd to share Christmas Communion. The service began by the pulling of a big cracker! Max Jones and David who was visiting told some of the jokes in the cracker. We are not going to pass them on as Andy might want to update his joke book with them!
Rev. Eileen reported, “A traditional Holy Communion Service was held and I must say the congregation were in fine voice as we continued in our Carol singing. The sermon tested those present about the Nativity Story, when they were told they needed to shout out if I made mistakes in the telling of the story. I was very relieved to find out that, “yes!”, they did know that the name of Jesus Mother was Mary not Tiffany and that the angel was Gabriel not Steve who came to Mary. They spotted many other funnies! I think Mary Jones giving lollipops out for right answers helped! I then finished my sermon, opening up the very first verses of John’s Gospel. These tell us the truth about Jesus Christ our Saviour -that before anything He was there, and nothing has been made before Him, and everything has been made through Him, and even though fully human, Jesus was fully divine of God, and was God………………you’ve got to agree that is amazing and awesome!”