I’m writing this in early November, and I feel that Christmas is almost upon us. That time of fun, families, and conspicuous consumption, although the latter might be a little more restrained this year!
A good number of shops and garden centres started decorating in September, which I think is a bit premature; tv channels are already wallowing in Christmas-themed films about good-will to all men; always with a happy ending, and hey, Strictly Come Dancing is on again – a sure sign that Christmas is around the corner.
My mother used to start asking me in July where I was going to spend Christmas. The holiday was a big deal for her, she’d spend days worrying and agonising about what she should buy my cousins’ children even when they were in their twenties!!! They usually ended up with sweets. It’s probably the same for everyone.
St Mark’s School is already planning Nativity plays and Christingle in the Church – I know because they’ve asked for the heating to be put on!!! Soon our talented flower-decorating ladies will be thinking about how they can make the church look festive once again. They never let us down, last year I seem to remember every windowsill sported a Christmas wreath.
In the summer when discussing what should be going on in the village during the year, I was interested to hear from a couple of participants that the village year should end in the Crib Service at St Mark’s Church.
For those of you new to the village, the Crib Service is when everyone gathers in the church at 5.30 pm on Christmas Eve to celebrate Mary and Joseph’s arrival in Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus. We start by lighting candles, and we sing carols as we watch children from the school and some adults act out the start of the Christmas story, if we’re lucky we have a LIVE donkey carrying Mary to the stable. And if we’re very, very lucky there’s a LIVE baby as well!!!
The church is regularly packed with people (standing room only) for the beginning of this festival of light and it’s lovely to see so many happy faces, however I do sometimes wonder if they are there for the donkey or if they genuinely want to hear the ancient story of the birth of a baby who would grow up to make such an impact in the world.
The next day, Christmas Day, there will be a service in St Mark’s at 9.00 am – if you’ve been up opening presents since 7.00 am do come an join us, you’ll probably need a break by then!
Then on Sunday, January 8th, at 6pm,we will celebrate Epiphany, when we remember the showing of Jesus to the Gentiles. The school children will parade around the church as the Three Wise Men, and representatives from the Village will do various readings.
I hope that you have a happy and peaceful Christmas with family and friends. Do come to some of the church’s celebrations but if you don’t particularly want to do this, as ever the church will be open for quiet reflection and prayer.
A very happy Christmas.
Janet Tourell and Valerie Banks – Deputy churchwardens