My first Christmas in these parishes...my first as a real live notionally grown-up vicar. Lots of good things to savour as I snuggle in bed with the lap-top, a cat and positively no service sheets to photocopy nor shopping to do. All is very calm and bright here!
Christmas Eve - Crib service was a delight. The children came, as invited, in costume to assemble a living crib and were overwhelmingly charming in their depiction of the scene. Baby Jesus has ginger hair and a good pair of lungs...
Photos later. The moment when Mary's lap had enlarged to accommodate not just the holy infant but an angel sucking her thumb was sadly not captured on camera but was pretty special.
Midnight Mass - no hitches but maybe just a little bit flat. Reasonable congregation though not groaning at the seams (I have a suspicion that the growth in numbers for Sunday's Carol service may have been because some occasionals chose that in preference to turning out for Midnight). The flatness had to do with the music (no, not a question of pitch).No choir and I'm not sure how to encourage the congregation to sing, if they can't be enthusiastic about carols on Christmas Eve...Hints, tips and encouragement much welcomed.
Christmas morning - God turned up at Church on the Hill even at 8.30 am. The congregation had done the most amazing job of transforming a church half full of scaffolding, screened off with plastic sheeting, into a warm and festive worship space and the congregation filled the space we had quite beautifully. Lovely atmosphere, which persisted at the Family Eucharist at Church in the Valley...Lots of regulars absent but the music group was on good form (and their families contributed most of the youth and children present, an additional reason to bless them) and everyone was relaxed and happy. I began the service by asking if anyone knew what day it was. There was a prolonged silence before C., who started in Reception at St M's school this term said rather tentatively
"I think it might be Christmas Day because Santa Claus came last night.."
I'd imagined, when I asked, a racous yell in response - but this was much better!
We unwrapped the large box of percussion that I'd bought with some of our grant money, decided that like most presents it was there to be used (thus tying in to the theme of Jesus is for life, not just for Christmas) and ended the service with the sort of romping loud procession that became a tradition at the end of Open House. I asked for a show of hands when all teh children had been armed with noise-makers...and several of the older ladies wanted an instrument too and one thanked me at the door saying
"I wish we had been allowed to enjoy worship when I was a child. I might not have stayed away from church for so many years..."
That, as you'll imagine, was rather a lovely Christmas gift for the vicar :-)
After that, a few visits to congregation in hospital or home alone and then I subsided by my very own fire-place with my very own family.
Libby's first Christmas was one of wild excitement, destroying squeaky toys in less time than it took to choose them, romping through wrapping paper and knocking most things flying with a wildly wagging tail...but that's life with small children or large puppies and was thoroughly entertaining.
My heap of Presents included a huge pile of books (will tell all later) and a docking station for the iPod so the afternoon involved good music and time reading and snuggling with my favourite people anywhere. What more could I ask, quite honestly?
I hope whatever is going on for you, there is a reality of love and blessing about the place. I'm so conscious of it here