It’s beginning to look a bit like Christmas…

Dear Friends,
This is always one of the busiest times of year for me, and this year is no exception, but of course, everything is different. We are working hard to make Christmas a true celebration of the coming of Jesus, even though we can’t do most of the things we normally do. It’s hard for us all to feel connected at the moment, so I hope that all the information in this newsletter helps a little.

Please remember that you can always get in touch – with me, any of our staff team or elders. We’re always glad to hear from you, whether it’s just to say hello, to share an idea or if you need help and support.

You may have heard about the Advent Boxes, produced by the URC and personalised by us, which have been delivered to all households with children and young people (including Brigades’ and youth club families) plus some extras. These boxes are packed with fun activities which bring out the real meaning of Christmas. We added a bag of chocolate coins to each one as a special treat (I do think chocolate is very important too!). These photos give a little insight into what they are like and the sorting operation involved to get over 70 boxes ready for delivery. They will feature in our Sunday morning services so that everyone can share the fun.

We hope to be able to open up for you to attend services from 20th December onwards. On the 20th there will be both a 10.30am service and a 4pm Carol Service. Of course, places will be limited but all services will continue to be live streamed, recorded, and put onto the DVDs/CDs for those who would like them. There will two Wednesday short morning services on offer too on the 9th and 16th December at 11am. Details about how to book in for services will be sent out in due course.

We are working on a nativity play with the children. Given that we can’t get everyone together we are finding creative ways to record family groups in costumes and hope to be able to put all the scenes together ready to share by video in the Crib Service on the Christmas Eve. This service will be very different to normal. We are used to packing the church with around 300 people, a donkey and a fair amount of holy chaos. This year we hope to run the service twice (2pm & 4pm) in order to allow more people to attend, but sadly, we won’t be able to have Ned the Donkey. We will look forward to having him back again next time. On Christmas Day there will be service as normal at 10am, but on Sunday 27th the service will be pre recorded and streamed in the normal ways.

Do look out for other things which we are providing to help keep us connected and lift our spirits during this time. Plans are underway to make deliveries and reach out to those in particular need as much as we can which will involve David Tuson and I being out and about in our cars. David is also going to lead us in an evening of fun entertainment on Zoom which I’m really looking forward to (see David’s advert for details). I expect the evening will feature some of his terrible jokes!!! Do join in if you possibly can – it’s so important to come together and doing so on Zoom allows us to actually see one another!

The children of our church family are busy decorating stars which will be used to make displays on the doors and windows of our building. Do go and have a walk or drive by to have a look later on in December. We hope that they will bring joy to all who pass the building and remind them that the church is alive and well with a wonderful message to proclaim.

We know that this winter is going to be difficult for all of us, but even more so for some. There are collections for the women’s refuge and the York Road Project, so do contribute if you can. Remember to support the Water Aid appeal in lieu of sending Christmas cards and, of course, the Christian Aid Christmas appeal. Look for further details of all of this elsewhere in this newsletter.

As we enter the advent season, the period of waiting and preparation for the coming of Christ, we are all feeling more impatient for a break through than ever before. We want this current season to end, for the ‘light’ of a vaccine to break through and for some sort of normality to resume. For now, we sit and wait. But we wait as people with hope – not just hope for the current situation but an eternal hope. We know that we are not alone, for our God came to dwell among us, full of grace and truth. Because of this, we are confident that the light which shines in the darkness will never be overcome.