As I prepare this email the Christmas lights are twinkling outside our house having received their official 'switching on' this evening which is the eve of Advent Sunday. This is the earliest we have ever turned on the twinkling lights but somehow this year it seems important to shine a light in a dark place.. a light to encourage others and to lift spirits. My heart is singing at the moment as I found myself unexpectedly absorbed in a chance watching of 'The Nativity Play' film on TV with its encouraging message of giving value and worth to the children of a local school - drawing them forward with a message of hope to aim for. Nigel and I both found ourselves reflecting on our teaching days with the joy of seeing a child/student blossom as they grew in confidence, self worth and achievement. What a privilege it is to inspire others.. and fantasy as this particular film may have been in so many ways, it brought a lightness and joy to my spirit to watch the children's faces shine with joy, and the parents' faces mirroring joy and pride in return, with Jesus' birth at the heart of the experience.
Tomorrow is the start of Advent season, when we prepare for the coming of Jesus. It is a season which calls us to reflect, to be still, to watch and to await the coming of Jesus, focusing on the importance of the coming of the Son of God into a dark world. The Christmas story brings joy, light and love with a call to us to share that love, light and joy with those we meet. Advent is also a time of challenge for us to self-examine ourselves and our world. 'What would Jesus do' is a common phrase used to balance and guide our actions.This year, I am heartened by the many generous offerings on Facebook and elsewhere looking out to those in need. Our dark times of self-isolation, social distancing, unemployment, sickness, and challenge seem to be opening hearts to awareness of the needs of others in greater numbers this year.. and also an awareness that material goods are less important as we yearn to meet with family and friends. Jesus knew all about isolation. He was a man often cast out or who stepped aside to spend time in prayer with his Father God. He was born at Christmas in isolation in a remote stable, because there was no room for him or his young parents in warm comfortable surroundings. How much we can learn from this special child.. the Son of God, born into humble surroundings, with a heart of gold, the Light of the World.. with his birth stable lit by a shining star.
This Sunday begins the period of Advent in the church when we consider Jesus' significance to us, and to the world. He calls us to know him. He yearns for us to turn to him. He offers the deepest love to the world and we are called to play our part to tell others about His birth.
As we commence Advent in our churches this week we offer:
The Recorded service, available on this website
Private Prayer in church on Sunday 29th and also during the week
Chalgrave Church at 10am Sunday and Wednesday at 10.30am (please note the different day this week).
Toddington Church at 11am Sunday and Thursday at 10.30am
Harlington Church at 9.45am and Thursday at 10am
Westoning Church at 10.30am Sunday and Wednesday at Noon.
The Upper Room -with the theme of Advent Sunday 29th November at 6pm by Zoom (link available from Linda).
Monday 9.30am by Zoom (link available from Linda).
Tuesday 9.30am by Zoom (link available from Linda).
Wednesday 9.30am at St George of England Church, Toddington (Yippee! we can go back into church!)
Advent Course 'Living Upside Down' begins this week
Wednesday 4.30pm by zoom for Toddington Afternoon Tea group
An evening Advent course for the Quintet (by zoom) led over 4 weeks by the Quintet Readers, Robert, Jon and Steve and Jenna Westoning Ordinand. The first session with be this Tuesday 1st December at 7.30pm.
If you are interested to attend the courses (either afternoon or evening) please contact Nigel or Linda to register your interest. Course materials will then be issued to you with the zoom link.
Harlington Wednesday 3.30pm
Toddington Wednesday 4.30pm (to include the Advent course)
Westoning Thursday 4.30pm - also to include reference to Advent
We are delighted to hear that the churches can be open for Public Worship from 2nd December as we move from 'lockdown' into the new Tier 2 system and we will return to church for our Sunday services on Sunday 6th December. Recorded services and Zoom Upper Room will also continue.
Christmas Services: (Plans so far) Dates for your diaries
Christmas Youth Group gathering in church on Tuesday 8th December (time tbc)
'Messy Church' Christmas Gathering in church on Friday 11th December. (time tbc)
Lessons and Carols Service Sunday 20th at 6pm
Crib Service Wednesday 23rd (time tbc)
Crib Service Christmas Eve -Thursday 24th 4pm
Midnight Mass Christmas Eve - Thursday 24th 10pm
Christmas Morning service - 10am
Carol Service Sunday 13th December 2.30pm
Carols by Candlelight 19th December 7pm
Crib service 24th December (Christmas Eve) at 2.30pm
Midnight Mass Christmas Eve 11.15pm
'Celebrating the Light' Carol Service Monday 21st December 7.30pm
Crib Service Wednesday 23rd December 4pm
Crib Service Thursday 24th December 5.30pm
Midnight Mass Thursday 24th December 11.15pm
Christmas Day Service 25th December 10am
Places for the Christmas services will be limited so early reservation of spaces is encouraged.
We will keep you informed of any further developments and send our love to you all.
Linda and Nigel