At 3.00pm on the Sunday immediately before Christmas St. John’s was filled not only with Christmas trees, but also with a large number of people of all ages, all gathered to celebrate the start of Christmas.
The musicians and the choir had each had a brief rehearsal prior to the service which began with Sue O’Donoghue singing the solo first verse of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’.
Jeremy then welcomed everyone and led the opening prayer:
‘At Christmas time we delight again to hear the story of the journey to Bethlehem, the song of the angels, the surprise of the shepherds, and their joy as they found Jesus in the manger.
But lest we forget he was born to poverty, we remember at this season all who are hungry or cold.
And lest we forget he became a refugee, we remember the stranger and the lonely among us.
And lest we forget he felt the pain of life and death, we remember now those who are ill, or anxious, or bereaved.
And because we know he came for our salvation, let us in heart and mind go once again to
, to hear the
message of the angels and worship afresh the Son of God.’ Bethlehem
The familiar story of the nativity was then told in a mixture of Bible readings and carols. The choir performed two of John Rutter’s carols - The Angel’s Carol and the Star Carol - accompanied by Julie Ann on the organ, and showed how well they had rehearsed during the previous weeks.
The Sunday GAP children provided lively renditions of four up-beat songs -
‘I fly to Bethlehem’, ‘Mary’s Boy Child’, ‘Shepherds Rock’ and ‘The Kings’ Song’, and showed not only their singing skill but also true enjoyment in performing these items. They certainly had the congregation tapping their feet and smiling.
The congregation also had the opportunity to sing six familiar carols, two of them accompanied by
the small ad hoc group of musicians.
Jeremy delivered a short epilogue in which he reminded us that really when we celebrate someone’s birthday we are celebrating them becoming older not remaining a baby, and that for us as Christians, the real joy of Christmas is that it marks the beginning of God with us as a human being, culminating in Christ’s sacrifice for each one of us on the cross.
After the service everyone was invited to enjoy mince pies and tea or coffee in the hall; a wonderful way to start Christmas.
Thank you to Christine and Stuart for the text and photos for this blog and also to the visiting cellist, John Cotterill!