What is the sound of one cracker being pulled?
Not so ancient Zen koan
‘Do nothing – Christmas is coming’ seems very counter-intuitive. Normally we quip ‘Jesus is coming – look busy!’ Well, as I try we try to manage church Christmas in Covid times (with the help of others!) IT IS GETTING BUSY. With the busy-ness can come weariness and frustration. It’s all too easy to get distracted and loose ourselves in activity and unrealistic expectations. That’s why I often return to a simple little book of daily reflections we read some years ago in Harbour Churches, ‘Do nothing – Christmas is coming’ by the now Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell.
I commend it to you as a place of sanity and sanctuary in all the giddiness of getting ready for Christmas. It will give you the encouragement to pause, take a breath and recalibrate your priorities and preparations this Advent. I was particularly struck by the entry for December 8th (I dip into it…). In 2008 – when the book was written – over half a million people were alone at Christmas.
This year that number will be even greater. Loneliness and isolation have become one of the very worst symptoms of the Covid pandemic. Mother Teresa wrote of loneliness:
‘The greatest suffering is being lonely, feeling unloved, having no one. I have come more and more to realise that it is being unwanted that it is the worst disease that any human being can ever experience.’
As we explore the characteristic of hospitality through the season of Advent, we need to recognise this ‘worst of diseases’ and look to how we can reach out beyond the comfort zone of those we know and love and risk a Christmas ‘tiding of comfort and joy’ with those less well known and lovable.
In normal times gathering with family and friends – gathering as the family of the church – are the touchstones of Christmas companionship. We know this year we are going to be significantly restricted in what we can do with others. But, as Revd Eric reminded us, we have in our mobile phone – a ‘tablet’ for the soothing the ills of isolation… Why not pull a cracker over the phone?
Worshipping together at Christmas…
Through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Harbour Churches welcomes over one-thousand worshippers to our three village churches. It simply isn’t possible to meet the needs of that many people during the present Covid restrictions. After a good deal of thought, prayer and planning, the Leadership and Ministry Team are now preparing to celebrate Christmas with the following services:
We have discovered just how special it is for us to be able to worship together ‘online’. Live links will be made available through the website and newsletters for the following services:
- ‘Littles Christingle Service’ led by Susan for all our children and available from Sunday 20th December.
- ‘Crib and Carols Service’ set in the ‘Christmas’ church of St Nicholas, led by Jonathan and the ministry team will be made available on Christmas Eve. This will be a service for all the family, and we encourage you to join in at 6pm.
- A sung service of ‘Midnight Mass’ with Holy Communion, presided at by Jonathan and members of the ministry team, will be made available on Christmas Eve.
- A ‘live’ Harbour Churches Zoom Christmas Day Celebration @ 11am.
Gathered worship Pre-existing church COVID-19 restrictions will apply
An outdoor service of ‘Carols by mobile phone light’ for the Harbour Churches family and friends, will be held at the church of St James on 23rd December @ 6pm led by Jonathan and members of the ministry team and supported by music group and choir. Book for your safely distanced bubble!
On Christmas Day a service of said BCP Holy Communion will be offered at 8am in the churches of St Peter and St Paul and St Nicholas and then at 9.30am in St James, for those who wish to make their communion on Christmas Day. Again, please book for these services.
And don’t forget…
Each church will be open (Wednesday – Sunday) to receive new toys in support of the local charity STOP DOMESTIC ABUSE . Please drop off the new toys (ages 0-16yrs) in church by December 18th or follow the link to give directly to the charity.
Praying that we may continue to ‘be good news’ as we prepare to celebrate Christmas
Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus.