Wednesday, 23 December 2009

48 hours to go...

Not long now before the Christmas morning service and then the opportunity to pull up the drawbridge and hibernate for a few days!

Christmas has been the all consuming focus of the last week or so in a variety of forms.

Our Christmas Dinner to raise money for 'Crisis at Christmas' was a great success. Over 40 diners tucked into traditional fayre of turkey and roast potatoes, pudding and custard and we raised £225 for a very worthy cause.

The local primary school chose to gather around the bandstand for their Carol Service this year which was a great community event and of course the children sang out the carols with great enthusiasm.

With an assignment to turn in I took a day to visit London, have lunch at Bloomsbury with the Tuesday gang, visit the college and also get a haircut (cheaper at Mr Toppers than anywhere here in town).

The end of last week saw much of the country grind to a halt because of snow but our little corner of England appeared to have missed out until early on Saturday morning when several inches of snow covered roads and houses to create the popular Victorian Christmas card scene.

Up early as usual I had completed two large and almost a dozen small 'gatepost' snowmen before the neighbours in the road threw back their curtains. The grandchildren staying at No. 6 and little Lily at No. 4 came out to lend a hand and very soon nearly every house in the road had its seasonal decoration.

Treacherous, icy roads and pavements prevented all but the faithful and perseverent worshippers joining us for our All-Age Nativity service on Sunday morning but we were able to assemble a living tableaux with all the necessary characters - Mary, Joseph, Shepherds, Angels, Wisemen and of course a doll in the crib.

To the twinkling of candles over 70 young and old brave souls slipped and slided their way into church for our Carol Service and each left glowing in the darkness with their glowstick gift in hand.

Our shut-ins have not been forgotten each getting a visit with the gift of a plant and the opportunity to have Communion if they desired.

We have also turned our thoughts to others by dedicating our Christmas collections to the work of the London City Mission which to-date exceed £200.

Christmas Eve sees us experiment with an 'It's nearly Christmas' service for families at 7pm and we of course will celebrate together on Christmas morning. (I hope to make the Midnight Service at the Parish Church too.)

As the snow melts away there will be little to prevent folk coming to celebrate Christ's birth with us. We've delivered over 1000 invites to local homes. Who will come we don't know but we are expectant...

Friday, 11 December 2009

Ssshh! It's nearly Christmas.

The word on the street is that Christmas is coming...
As I gaze across the street the bungalow twinkles with fairy lights from its roof and a flashing santa in the window. For my part the artificial tree in the porch is adorned with a small set of lights that cost 97p from the hardware store and my lovely black borbel that says 'I hate Christmas'.
The church on the other hand is getting very festive. The sanctuary windows are now all filled with Poinsettia plants, candles are ready for next week's Candlelight Carol Service and the hall is laid out ready for our Christmas Dinner tomoorow night when we have 42 diners booked to enjoy festive fare and help us raise money for 'Crisis'.
College is finished for the Christmas break although I plan to spend sometime in the library next Tuesday as part of a London day which includes Christmas lunch at Bloomsbury, a much needed haircut at Mr Toppers and some retail therapy.
Last Tuesday offered an opportunity to join friends at Bloomsbury for their annual Carol sing under the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square with members of Crown Court Church of Scotland. For me this kick starts the 'official' start of Christmas celebrations or at least forces me to engage with the reality of the season gathering pace around me.
Here in Walmer we continue our Advent journey both on Sundays and at our studies on Thursdays exploring the theme of 'Advent Angels'.
We have delivered over 1000 invitations to our Christmas services and activities to local residents and hope some may join us over the coming weeks as we celebrate Christ's birth.
Monday sees an open-air Carol Service led by the local school for parents, children and friends at the Bandstand. It promises to be a cold, dark night - even possibly snowing - so we will need to wrap up warm to share our Christmas cheer.
A round of Christmas Communions to our shut-ins is on the agenda too for next week along with the necessary preparations for our all-age Nativity next Sunday morning and the need to find readers for the Carol Service.
As the gritter lorry passes by my window I'm prompted to think that there may be some truth in the rumour that snow is on it way but for certain Christmas is coming and I think I'm ready.