Co-Chair North, Ruth’s Blog: 19th December 2023
This year, Christmas Day falls on a Monday, and by now, many churches have had their Carol Services, most Christmas cards have arrived and there is a true sense of Advent and anticipation in the air, with almost a week still to go before Christmas Day! Christmas preparations began early for some – Christmas trees went up on 1st December and the radio seems to have been playing Christmas songs for weeks, Nativity plays have taken place so it is no wonder that children are so excited and bubbling over!
As you are preparing for Christmas, what have the highlights been for you? Michael and I, belong to the church choir, which is more of a community choir, and it is our tradition to hold a concert in aid of Action for Children. Since covid, we have held it in the afternoon and involved the children from Springfield Special School. We sang to a packed Church. The children were fantastic! Their enthusiasm and enjoyment touched everyone and there was not a dry eye in the church! People are still talking about it even though it was held three weeks ago. By contrast, we attended the Halle Carol Concert in the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, on Saturday, when all the Halle Choirs – Children’s, Youth, and Adult Choirs – sang accompanied by the Halle Orchestra. It was a joyous occasion.
Last year, in the middle of January, we visited Colombia, and were surprised to see that their Christmas lights and decorations were still in evidence! We had taken down our decorations two weeks before, but they were celebrating Jesus’ arrival into the world. There was a huge Nativity tableau on the Caribbean sea front in Cartagena, and to us, it seemed really strange to be seeing it whilst enjoying summer temperatures! January and February can be dismal months here but perhaps, like the Colombian people, we should mark Advent, then carry the joy of Christmas and the celebration of the arrival of the Christ Child into the new year, instead of seeing ‘Christmas’ beginning on 1st December!
Our ministry together has been one of teamwork and on Sunday we led a Carol Service of International Carols. On Christmas Eve morning we will be taking the service based around the Advent Reflections of an email conversation between Elizabeth and Mary, that Bronwen and I wrote for the Methodist Recorder. If you haven’t yet seen them, they are on our website. At that time, life was difficult in the Holy Land under the occupation of the Romans. Life is still very difficult today in Israel and Palestine, and our hearts go out to those people who have lost loved ones, those who have been injured and to those who have lost everything. We pray for them and for peace in that troubled land and in all areas of conflict.
‘God who gave the world it’s birth,
God who promised peace on earth,
Word, becoming flesh to keep that vow,
Is cradled in a manger now.’
Words from the Iona Community
Christmas Blessings and love to you all.