December 2020/January 2021
Christmas is not cancelled
A year ago, I wrote
about what it meant to have 20-20 vision and used that as a launch pad to
reflect on how we might approach the year 2020 and the new decade that came
with it. Referring to a range of prayer resources we might find helpful, I
wrote, “When you consider all the things that 2020 might bring there is plenty
to pray about.”
There certainly was! Yet, while I had the whole Brexit saga in my mind, and the political upheavals we were experiencing as the year came to an end, few of us could have predicted that the biggest issue for us would not be Brexit but Covid-19.
It’s probably part of the human psyche that we digest big events in bite sized chunks. When lock down began we thought the crisis would be over by September. Then it was Christmas. Now the talk is of next Spring, while on the morning I wrote this it was said that one of the hoped-for vaccines would take the best part of next year to roll out. That’s normality by next Christmas, then. Or maybe the new normality, one of several phrases to enter our vocabulary this year.
As life began to open up again over the summer, albeit cautiously, we became increasingly optimistic. Then the second wave reared its ugly head, and with it, a second lockdown; not as severe as last March, but enough to shake the confidence that had begun to build in the light at the end of the tunnel. To find that the light at the end of the tunnel was in fact a train coming the other way did some people quite a bit of damage. Already, Christmas was appearing on the horizon: a jolly time, a relaxing time, a time for family and friends… and a time that was about to be ruined.
Which is why some have reacted sharply, saying, “That’s it! Christmas is cancelled.”
I don’t want to belittle the emotion. In our household, the Rule of Six had already spoiled the family gatherings that are an important part of our Christmas. Lockdown would make little difference to that, even if it lasted that long. For others, it is worse. Imagine living alone and not being able to join the rest of your family. You can’t even make your own entertainment if the hospitality industry is closed down. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
It’s just that part of me, the part that is belligerent faith, wants to rise up and say, “No! Christmas is not cancelled!”
For if Christmas is shopping, and pubs and restaurants, and crowded streets, and brightly lit trees and decorations, and parties and gatherings of all kinds, then Christmas may well be very different this year. And if Christmas is busy churches with big services and plenty of singing, Christmas may well still be very different this year. Secular and spiritual alike, the absence of those things will indeed make Christmas very odd.
But if Christmas is quite simply a reminder of that point in time when God intervened in human history, a time when a tiny baby spoke of a Kingdom like no other, a Kingdom based not on material wealth and wellbeing, nor even religious ceremony, but a Kingdom based on vulnerable love so powerful that no event, no crisis, however life-changing can destroy, then no matter how much I might miss all those other things, Christmas is still alive and well on planet Earth.
Christmas is a time to grasp anew the truth of Emmanuel, “God with us,” sharing our lives and our pain and transforming them with his love. It is definitely not cancelled.
Normal Service will be Resumed…
…on Sunday 6 December, subject to whatever Covid-secure guidelines are put in place as the current lockdown ends. All being well, the Parish Eucharist will return on that day at 10.00am, and the mid-week Eucharist on the following Wednesday, 9 December also at 10.00am. The church will continue to be open for private prayer on Thursdays from 9.00am until 12.30pm, and on Sundays from 12 Noon until 3.30pm. The Parish Office will continue to be closed to visitors.
Visiting us on 6 December will be two representatives from the charity Safe Families. This organisation works with social services departments to support families suffering isolation through economic and relationship difficulties. Safe Families trains volunteers to be companions to walk alongside troubled families to listen and encourage in a range of different ways. However little spare time you have, or regardless of age and life circumstances, you can make a difference. At the Parish Eucharist we will hear more about their work and how we might be able to help. You can also find out more at www.safefamilies.uk, join an Information Meeting by Zoom on 23, 30 November or 7 December by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for an invitation, or watch a short video at https://vimeo.com/478457708/2e74a6f2e7
We are currently planning to hold most of our usual Christmas services against a background of Tier One restrictions. In the event of lockdown restrictions being applied, all services will be live streamed to our Facebook page. Given the limited numbers we can take in church, certain services will be subject to advance booking, and will be repeated on more than one occasion. See separate feature for full details.
Welcome to the Deanery
We welcome to the Taunton Deanery the Revd Dr Nick Griffin who will be licensed as the new Vicar of St George’s, Wilton, on 19 January. Please pray for Nick and for the people of St George’s as they begin their journey together.
Comings and Goings
Following our APCM in October, we welcome back to the PCC, Merv Jones. We also say thank you to Stephen Grimshaw who completes his term as Churchwarden after 6 extra months service! Stephen remains on PCC in his role as Lay Dean of Taunton. Congratulations to David Budd, re-elected for his second year as Churchwarden. Sadly, David is officially alone in this role this year, but I know that there a number of people who will be supporting him in the background.
New St Andrew’s
We now have sufficient funds and are ready to go with our toilet extension. Builders are allowed on site to work subject to Covid-secure guidelines. Unfortunately, we are unable to extract a commitment from our preferred contractor for work to begin and our PCC Architect, Jo Hibbert, is exploring other options on our behalf.
St Andrew’s Yarnbombers
Following two successful displays, one to encourage the community in these difficult times, and one to mark Remembrancetide, our yarnbombers are now planning to recycle the existing knitting to create a display for Christmas. Watch out when passing the railings on the Green in the coming weeks. Thanks to the yarnbombing group for their imagination and creativity.
…to Josie Wall, to be confirmed by Bishop Nigel Stock, an Assistant Bishop in this diocese, on Thursday 10 December, alongside candidates from other churches in the deanery. We are sorry that, due to social distancing restrictions, places at this service are very limited. Please contact Katy on email@example.com if you’d like to attend.
- St Andrews Church
- Greenway Avenue
- TA2 6HU