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News from the Vicarage - December 2016

Dear Friends,

We use the word 'celebration' to describe what we do in church: we 'celebrate the Eucharist' or we 'celebrate Christmas'.

In those phrases, to celebrate means 'to mark a festival or an event by solemn ceremonies'. To celebrate is to do something joyful because of a feeling of pleasure at some event. At Christmas we celebrate joyfully, because it is the birth of Jesus, the Son of God incarnate.. Before we celebrate Christmas we have the four weeks of Advent to prepare for his coming. As Jesus comes to us at Bethlehem we have time to reflect on why God sent his only Son into the world, to be one of us. The coming of Christ challenges us to think about our lives, about our selfishness, about hope, about life and death. So we confront our sins and look forward in joyful anticipation for Christmas. No 'Gloria'. No flowers. The somber colour purple, except on the third Sunday when we use rose pink!. No carols or Christmas music.

In Advent we hear of the story of the Patriarchs, the Prophets, and John the Baptist, and, of course, the story of the Arch-angel Gabriel telling Mary that she is to bear a Son. This all builds up the story of why God sent his Son into the world. We light a candle on the Advent Wreath, one for each Sunday of Advent, then the final white one for Christmas Day.

On the Third Sunday of Advent (11th Dec) we have the Deanery Confirmation here at S. Mary's with the Bishop of Shrewsbury The Right Rev'd Mark Ryland and we have quite a number of confirmation candidates - very encouraging! And on the Fourth Sunday of Advent we have our popular Christingle Service (Christ Light) where the orange represents the world, then the fruits of the earth, the candle Christ the Light of the world and the red ribbon his blood that He shed for us. The collection goes to the Children's Society which we as a church support appropriately at Christmas. The Archdeacon of Salop The Ven. Paul Thomas is coming to this service to preach.

The traditional Service of Nine Lessons and Carols is as near to Christmas as possible on the 23rd Dec 6.30pm singing carols in candle light and hearing the story of God's redemption. The joy of the children at our Crib Service Christmas Eve at 6pm. Then Midnight Mass at 11 .30pm - the highlight of Christmas and the baby Jesus being put in the Crib, and on Christmas day the usual services. Christmas would not be Christmas without our preparations, nor our Carol Service nor especially our Christmas Eucharist. We look forward to seeing you.

A Holy Advent and a Happy Christmas to you all.

Fr. Philip Edge - Vicar