During Advent at Caversham Heights Methodist Church, we had a Mitten tree in our church porch on which members of the congregation hung children's mittens, hats and scarves that they had knitted - though a few were bought, and last week all these gifts were taken down and dedicated together with the gifts of toys brought to the church on Toy Sunday. Then all the gifts were taken to Christian Community Action, the local ecumenical charity helping families in need across greater reading.
Yesterday we had two wonderful services with our new Minister. We had had a very heavy snowfall which kept many elderly people at home, but fortunately friends gingerly transported me to and from the church for both 10.30am and 4pm services. It was a traditional nine lessons and carols service in the morning, beginning with a bbrief drama in which the dialogue told of the important part angels had in the Nativity story. Each lesson was followed by teaching from Jenny on angels. Quite interesting and very educational The closing prayer (for the whole congregation) was that we might all use our eyes and ears to be more aware of angels, for we often entertain angels unawares, and that we may help our neighbours and spread the Good News of the Nativity.
The afternoon children's service was wonderful, with little angels and shepherds doing unexpected things like ripping off their headdress or running to Mummy when they should be on stage. All the children (and some older 'children' like me!) were loaned bells to ring in the choruses of the carols. Most of them were too young to act the Nativity, so one of the youth group acted as narrator and handed out presents from a sack in stages. The little ones first unwrapped a manger and it was put on the communion table; then Mary and Joseph, animals, shepherds and wise men, etc. The little ones (with supervision) put everything in or round the stable themselves. Finally, the last BIG parcel unwrapped was the world which, when placed above the stable, lit up - to illustrate that Christ, the Light of the world had come. Just before the last hymn, all the children in the church (not just those on stage) were given Stars on sticks (lit by a switch on each handle) and they all kept going round and round the church waving their stars as we sang 'Shine, Jesus, shine'. So a very happy time was had by all.
There was a good congregation of mainly parents and grandparents but the severe cold kept many of our regular congregation at home. Such a pity, because I often hear them complain that we have few children in our SS these days and I keep telling them that we have but they don't all come on the same Sunday. Today they did! As they grow older, I believe they will come more often and under Jenny's ministry will build up into something more like the SS we used to have. At present we have a good group of young people and lots of very young families. For some reason Junior age children are missing in our church families. What happy Christmas services!