Thursday, 25 December 2008

Happy Christmas

On Christmas Day I presided at communion at St Mary's Shenley. Christmas Day services are always interesting round here since many regular members are away, but our congregations are hugely supplemented by visitors from other churches or elsewhere in the country. This makes Christmas congregations quite unique!

On Christmas Eve at All Saints' for instance, the congregation included a number of members and ministers from other local churches who don't do midnight services themselves. Hence more than half the congregation were members of Loughton Baptist Church, New Life West and Shenley Christian Fellowship.

At St Mary's on Christmas Day the congregation included a number of people who were visiting family - and a few people from local Anglican churches who didn't have Christmas Day services of their own.

At the end of the service I asked everyone to wave and wish you all a happy Christmas. Here are a few of them:
Although it's a real pleasure to worship with such a wide range of fellow Christians, it is a bit tricky to plan for such services - since you never know who you're going to get! Are there going to be any children? Will people take communion? and so on...

On Christmas Day I improvised on the theme of "missing bits":
  1. We all have Christmas traditions and if we don't do them for some reason we may feel that we haven't done Christmas properly... I asked people to think about some of the things that they do at Christmas...
  2. As a family, we like to watch the Muppet Christmas Carol - this is the moment when we know it's Christmas. This year we purchased a new copy on DVD since our old VHS was no longer playable. We sat down and enjoyed the movie - right up to the point when Scrooge was about to loose the love of his life in his worst Christmas flashback ever! The only problem was that the bitter sweet ballad "When love has gone" didn't happen! This is the turning point of the film when Scrooge reaches his lowest point and begins his ascent to self-knowledge and revelation. This is also Isla's favourite song from the movie. Apparently Disney didn't like the song and felt that it was too sad for a family movie! It's not in the theatrical version - or the DVD - only on the VHS release - which must mean that VHS viewers can cope with a bit of sadness...
    Christmas can become a festival of sweetness and happiness - which is fine - but without a bit of sadness it's a bit flat. Unless you accept that there is brokenness in the world there is no need for salvation. Unless you are willing to face the reality of your own faults and failings there is no need for redemption. Christmas is meaningless without the cross.
  3. One of my Christmas presents was a small blue box - a TARDIS. The only problem was that it didn't come with batteries and we didn't have any in the house. A TARDIS without batteries won't go anywhere - or won't make the appropriate groaning noise...
    Christmas presents often need battery power to make them work and God's people also need power if they are to be capable of genuine change or become the people God intended them to be. Our journeys in time and space are not powered by tripple As but by the Holy Spirit. Christmas without the Holy Spirit is just a pretty story.

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