Rector's Ramblings: November 15th 2020



   In a year when so much is different, I am going to break with one of my own personal traditions. It has been my tradition not to focus on Christmas in sermons and so forth in November, when we have not even got to Advent. For me, Advent and particularly Advent Sunday is to remember the promise that Jesus will return, not as the babe in Bethlehem but at the end of time as Lord of all. A promise of real hope to me and for all.

    This year, here goes with some thoughts that go against my personal grain and focus on Christmas as early as 15th November: the TV ads are clear that we are into the Countdown to Christmas underlined by the reappearance of Kevin the Carrot. We’re all wondering what sort of Christmas this will be. Our Prime Minister says the National Lockdown will end on 2nd December, but out of Lockdown into what?

    In terms of church celebrations, we suspect numbers in the buildings will still be limited and that the wearing of face masks and the no singing rule will still apply. We’re holding the printing of December church magazines as we don’t want to advertise things that will not happen.

   That said, Christmas isn’t ‘off’. It is not cancelled by any means. It will look different. We think it will include:

  • A video for Christmas in the same vein as our recent video of a Remembrance Day service.
  • 4 churches will have their Christmas ‘carol’ services on the 13th and  4 on the 20th December
  • We can’t risk the big Christmas Eve services at 4pm and 6pm because of Covid numbers limits
  • We plan Christmas Eve midnight communion and some churches and Christmas Day at others
  • Further Christmas services on 27th December.

   They will all be somewhat different but different doesn’t mean worse. We know we tend to like ‘normal’ and dislike change. The challenge is to be creative in the face of inevitable change. We can still honour all the good qualities that Christmas brings out in us: generosity, kindness, love, and the goodness that is in people. How can we be creative in highlighting these good qualities?

  Even more importantly, how can we be creative in how we share the amazing story of the coming of God to his wayward world born as a baby? The message is always living and new but what we package it in can become a little tired at times; in the same way, I might dare to say that my friend Kevin the Carrot has.

   As an example of a new way: we have long sent Mary, Joseph and donkey (knitted) out from church on Advent Sunday to travel to Bethlehem (or at least back to church) for Christmas Eve. Families have loved giving them a bed for the night. That can’t be done this year so we are going to take photos of them on their journey around the Woodfield Team area. Then have a competition to guess where they are – open to all to see who can guess most right. Entry forms will be available.

  The Christmas video will be new and won’t simply be a straight carol service – we are not as tecchie as some churches but our heart will be in it.

   We aim to make this different Christmas special, one to remember for good reasons. We will celebrate as always the good tidings that were declared by the angels to those shepherds. Tidings of great joy for all people that the Saviour was born in Bethlehem. We have good tidings of comfort and joy for all in 2020.

  May we in the power of God’s Holy Spirit make this a very real Christmas – regardless of restrictions and all the rest. Though let us not forget Advent either before we get to Christmas – there is another challenge: how to make Advent Sunday memorable?