December 2013— further update
At last — a chance to continue the update on last month!
Farnborough Road Junior School again (and the Infant School)
Rehearsals for the Year 3 & Year 4 Christmas performance all morning. The Infants had been going to come and look at the Christmas Tree Festival display, but sadly the funeral of a member of staff was taking place that afternoon and they were unable to come.
Tuesday 17th December
2 performances of the Y3/4 Christmas concert/carol service attended by lots of parents. Everyone seems to have enjoyed themselves.
Wednesday 18th December
The Infants' postponed visit to see the Christmas trees went very smoothly, at least from an outsider's perspective. Getting all the classes to see the trees and put money in the collecting boxes of the ones they liked must be quite an involved undertaking. Hats off to the staff who organised it all!
Phoenix Christmas Communion, lunch and entertainment
Wednesday 18th December
Phoenix is our organisation for older people. We meet on the third Wednesday of every month for a Communion service with a short sermon and prayers at 11.30 am, followed by lunch served from 12.00, and an afternoon session, usually with a visiting speaker, from about 1pm.
The Communion service on this occasion was "as if" for Christmas Day, with Christmas readings and brief sermon. This was followed by Christmas lunch of turkey and trimmings, and then by a concert from pupils of Julie Ann Carr, one of our organists and a music teacher. Everyone seemed to enjoy the festive atmosphere.
Not their logo, but for illustration ...
Farnborough Road Junior School (once again)
Thursday 19th December
The Juniors all came for their final assembly of the term to reflect on Christmas and their achievements over the past term, to sing a few more pieces of music and round the term off as "just us".
We'd just like to say, what a pleasure it has been to work together with them in enabling their Christmas celebrations to come together in the true home of Christmas and Christmas music — a church.
GAP Christmas Party!
GAP (God And Play) is our group for children that meets both Friday afternoon and Sunday morning. Only a few of them go to both, but for the party, both groups came together to go to the Pain Pots Ceramic Studio in Southport, on Hill Street (just behind the Sainsbury's car park) ...
With leaders and members it was great fun, and called for great concentration ...
A range of possible projects
Lots of materials to work with
and "a good time was had by all"!
Sunday 22nd December, 3.30 pm
Christmas doesn't really get started until we've had the carol service! Ours is always on the last Sunday before Christmas, and it's a relatively informal way of celebrating Christmas music and the Christmas story.
So we had a range of congregational carols and items performed by the children of GAP and Eagles (our youth group), interspersed with readings telling the story of Jesus' birth at Bethlehem.
Near the end we had a sketch where Tim (GAP leader) set up a camera for a photo of the nativity tableau. There were Joseph and Mary on their chairs on the chancel step. Then Tim brought in more and more characters to add to the tableau ... shepherds and sheep ... wise men and camels ... donkey .. cow ... innkeeper ...
The step was getting crowded ... the congregation were getting restive (see picture). It was a case of "Where's the baby?" All the extras were standing in front of Mary and Joseph and the baby, and the principal cast wouldn't be in the shot!
Then came the sound of a baby crying. "Will someone please shut that baby up!" cried Tim, to the obvious shock of some. "How do you expect me to do my job with all that noise going on?" ... And he stalked off.
There was stunned silence, then laughter as the penny dropped — it had all been part of the sketch!
But it had a serious point — Jeremy got up and said that at Christmas we can so easily get caught up in the decorations and presents, cards and food, parties and family gatherings and so on, that from time to time someone needs to say, "Hold on, where's the baby? What's all this for?"
So by all means enjoy all the extra "trimmings" of Christmas, but let's remember whose birthday it is, and celebrate all that He did for us as well as the special things that happened when He was born.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
The "Midnight" Communion service was well attended with getting on for 100 people present, most of whom also received communion.
Jeremy preached on the classic Christmas Bible reading, John 1.1-18: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God." Whose birthday is it we celebrate? It is the birthday of the incarnate Word, the Son of God, in whom we too can become God's children by receiving the second birth from God himself.
At the end of the service, as we passed through midnight, he greeted everyone with a cry of, "It's midnight, it's Christmas Day! Happy Christmas everybody!", which was heartily echoed from the congregation.
Then at 10am a quiet Family Communion service, where a select few took time out to share in greeting Jesus's birthday together in the place where it matters.
We hope you enjoyed your Christmas too -- and that you will continue to have a happy and harmonious New Year.