Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A post just for Songbird...

who, thanks to the Atlantic Ocean, has managed to live a blameless life, free from any pernicious taint of Christingle!

I guess the main thing to know about said service is that it is staggeringly popular, attended by scores of people who wouldn't dream of setting foot in a church on other occasions. It combines children and sweets, carols and candlelight...is it any wonder that it packs them in the pews?
It's also a rather clever way of persuading people to support a worthy cause,- but I do have very mixed feelings about it, even when I'm not jetlagged before I start the proceedings. I'm fairly soggy at heart, but in all honesty Christingle does border on the unbearably sentimental. Only on a very a good day, can I feel OK about "Away in a manger" by candlelight. Christingle makes me want to imitate an Anglo Catholic priest (who is undoubtedly famous, which is probably why I can't even begin to recall his name)..and who used, iirc, to shock his congregation at Midnight Mass each year by removing the baby from the crib and placing a cross there instead, which is strange, because the circumstances of the children that Christingle sets out to support have far more in common with the suffering God than with chocolate-box commercialism.
So I'm probably being unreasonable...and most years, I devise Christingle services with good grace. This year's grimble factor is probably just part of the post India fall-out. Anyway, here is a Christingle in all its glory, plus the official info from the Children's Society US friends want to experiment, there's enough material there to keep you going for years!website.

Christingle services bring together family and friends of all ages. Held from Advent to Epiphany, this festive celebration communicates the Christian message in an inspiring way to adults and children alike. Its wide appeal makes it an ideal way to encourage newcomers to church and extend your congregation.

The Children's Society holds its special Christingle appeal each year to raise vital funds for the children facing life's harshest challenges. Children who may find themselves sleeping rough this winter; or fleeing conflict and war; caught in a cycle of crime; or marginalised due to a disability. The funds raised from Christingle help us to shine light into the darkness of their lives.

Christingle was established by the Moravian Church in 1747 as a symbol of Christ's light and love. The word itself means Christ light. The Children's Society introduced it to the Church of England in 1968 and it has since become a popular family and community event.

The Christingle itself is made up of a lighted candle (symbolising Jesus, the Light of the World), mounted on an orange (representing the world), and a red ribbon or tape around the middle of the orange (indicating the blood/ love of Christ). Four cocktail sticks bearing dried fruit or sweets are also stuck into the orange to signify the four seasons and the fruits of the earth.

So there you have it. If any U.S friends want to experiment, the Children's Society website surely has enough material to keep you going for years,- but I won't blame you if you decide to give it a miss!


Songbird said...

Thank you for the explanation. Believe me, we have our own odd American habits.

Anonymous said...

OK. I CAN see your point, and after India it must be simply awful (although I think I would find infant school nativity worse what with the vying for the tinsel crowns), but actually for me it is great that this service IS so popular and gives many an opportunity to have just a LITTLE of the wonder of the candlelit service. In the same way I'm happy that the "Day star on high" (I'll explain that one day if you really want me to) has gone up on my parents' church this weekend waaayyy too early to combine with the village Chrsitmas fair. Yes it IS combining Christ with the secular and possibly even with the pagan but that's how the early saints brought Christianity here in the first place isn't it?

Kathryn said...

You're absolutely right, my friend. I'm just weary and cynical. Blame the jet lag, because infants' school nativities actually /do/ make me cry,- and I'm all for incarnational stuff really!
Probably time I went to bed ;-)

Anonymous said...

Sorry to say I never liked it when I was CofE many years ago, and I don't like any more now as a Baptist! But glad you are home safe from India

cal said...

Bah humbug.

I love Christingle. Always have. I remember one magical service as a child where we came out of the candlelit church bearing our small lights and it had been snowing but was oh so still so the candles stayed alight for ever. Yes it really was a cliched Christmas seen but it really did feel that we were truly bearing the light out from the church into the world - quite an impact on a smallish child (actually I may have been a teenager by that point). I seem to remember even my parents were impressed though.

(Mind you the way the Children's Society explanation is written is fairly vomit inducing I agree.)

fiona said...

Thought you'd like these comments from the Archers' websitehttp://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbarchers/F2693940?thread=3753683

Do people make and take their own? At our church everyone turns up half an hour before the service and makes one

Message 2 - posted by The blessed songsinger (U2319309) , 1 Hour Ago
At our church the volunteers turn up the day before and spend hours making them. I didn't know that people took their own.

Message 3 - posted by Ishmael Gelbvieh (U6698802) **, 59 Minutes Ago
I tried growing some this year. Not easy as they are quite demanding and need good soil.
Much better than the imported ones though.