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Christmas – December Newsletter

Let me begin by apologising, I unashamedly love Christmas.  It’s only November and I’m getting excited now.  The Goughs have many Christmas traditions – breakfast with Santa, cheese & biscuits whilst watching Love Actually (although since the boys it’s been the Muppets Christmas Carol!), a family Christmas Eve buffet – to name but a few. Of course, at the heart of it for me is Jesus’ birthday and so we need to celebrate it properly.

We live in a culture where many times of year have become over commercialised – Easter, Valentine’s Day, Mothering Sunday, Halloween and yes, of course Christmas.  It seems to be earlier and earlier every year when the shops start gearing up for Christmas.  Its very easy, particularly as Christians, to see this and be quick to criticise but maybe we just need to embrace it?  The “bah humbug” approach that some Christians display can often come across to others as either patronising or judgemental. Perhaps in our ever-increasing secular society we should rejoice in the fact that Christmas is still recognised at all.  Interestingly, surveys by the Church of England in recent years have shown significantly increased attendance at services across the country during Advent and Christmas.  This is in stark contrast, if the headlines are to be believed, to declining church attendance during the rest of the year.

This is why I get so excited at Christmas; at no other time in the calendar do we have such an open invitation to actually remind people of who Jesus is, how he came to earth and what the purpose of God’s big plan for his creation was – I love it!  We can put on different services that people want to come to and we have a message of hope, of God’s grace, of God’s gift and love that is true for the whole year but is so readily welcomed at Christmas.

So, for me, Advent is important, but from the 1st December the tree goes up, the lights come on and you’ll most likely see me sporting a Christmas jumper.  We should get excited, we’re in the run up to the best birthday ever.  Yes, we wait with anticipation as the prophets did.  Yes, we will gaze with wonder as the shepherds did and yes, we will revel in the mystery of Jesus’ birth like Mary & Joseph but lets not wait until Christmas Day.  The saying goes “Christmas comes but once a year” so let’s make the most of December and offer a different story to our society of what this season can mean.

This year at St Anne’s we hope you’ll find there’s a little bit of something for everyone.  For families that might be our Advent Messy Church in the afternoon of Sunday 3rd December or our Cartoons, Carols & Christingle service at 4.00pm on Christmas Eve.  If it’s something a little more traditional that you’re after then there is our Carols by Candlelight service on the evening of Sunday 17th December.  For a service that’s more reflective in the busyness of the season we offer the Midnight service at 11.30pm on Christmas Eve where we join together for the first Communion of Christmas.  Not forgetting the day itself, Monday 25th December at 9.30am, our Christmas Celebration service where a Christmas jumper is standard and bring a wrapped present so we can open them together.  Whichever you choose be it one or all then you can be assured of a warm welcome and a vicar who can’t wait to celebrate with you.