Christingle packs - one for each child who completes the Christingle Nativity Trail!
This week we tell you about some great events and services that are happening this Sunday and on Christmas Eve. We also have an update from Building to Serve and a recommendation for some holiday reading from Ursula.
Praying that God will "strengthen you according to the gospel" this week.
Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Sunday 20th December 10.30am - service in church with Communion (livestreamed) Sunday 27th December 10.30am - no service (We'll be making recommendations to help you worship at home instead.) Sunday 3rd January 10.30am - Sunday service video on our website, for everyone to watch, led by the youth. (No service in church.) Sunday 10th January 10.30am - service in church (livestreamed)
Thursday 24th December 11am - service in church with Communion Thursday 31st December 11am - no service Thursday 7th January 11am - service in church
Setting a Watch
Everyone is so welcome to continue to use the link to pray for half an hour each day at 6am and 6pm. However, between Thursday 24th December and Friday 1st January there will be no-one officially "leading" the prayer session.
Building to Serve Prayer Meeting
Building to Serve Prayer Meetings are now on pause until the new year. The next Building to Serve Prayer Meeting will be Monday 4th January at noon.
Sunday 20th December 4pm - 6pm - Carol-Vanning around Chippy Thursday 24th December 2pm - 4pm - Christingle Nativity Trail around Chippy Thursday 24th December 11.30pm - midnight service in church Friday 25th December 10.30am - Christmas Family Celebration in church (livestreamed)
This Sunday we are going to be celebrating communion together for the first time in a long time during our main Sunday worship! We’re delighted to be able to do this all together before Christmas as we can become a little more dispersed at this time of year.
We’ll be providing clear instructions on the morning as to the logistics, but just so you get an idea, please click below to see what we will aim to do.
We totally understand that some people may not feel comfortable receiving communion. Even if you are not comfortable doing this, we can still celebrate this precious time as God’s family together.
St. Mary’s Church is very excited to be undertaking a brand new venture this weekend! This Sunday afternoon we are going to be travelling around with a live band playing jazzy carols to the town of Chipping Norton. Due to Covid regulations, we can’t organise large gatherings, but we are hoping that many of you will be able to enjoy this safely from your own homes or to wander out and listen. We can now finally reveal the list and order of areas in Chippy we will be visiting between 4-6 pm.
1. Coopers Close/Rowell Way
2. Evans Way
3. Cornish Road
4. Cross Leys/Web Crescent
5. Finishing at the Branch (Former Natwest building in town)
We know it won’t be possible to get everywhere, but we hope you might at least hear us from a distance if not see us. We will be setting up at the Branch so if you happen to be walking past between 3-4 pm you may hear us play a warm-up act!
Please be praying for all the logistics (audio, transport, generator), for a good community response and for the musicians and all those helping.
We can’t wait to see you and share the Christmas Joy with you all.
Thursday Worship . Christmas Eve . 11.00am
Next Thursday (Christmas Eve) we'll be joining in the church at the usual time for Thursday worship. We'll be celebrating Communion together, and to mark the start of Christmas festivities, we'll be adding some Christmas carols into the service so that even if we can't sing, we'll still be able to listen to the sounds of carol singing.
CHRISTINGLE NATIVITY TRAIL
Christingle Nativity Trail . Thursday 24th December . 2pm-4pm
Experience the Christmas story in a new way. Walk through the town, finding scenes from the Christmas story depicted by live actors (and live animals!) Follow the star, meet the shepherds and finally come face to face with the baby Jesus!
At the end of the trail we have a gift just for you, which will include everything you need to make your own Christingle.
To join the Trail please come to the Town Hall steps between 2pm and 3.30pm.
GREAT NEWS FROM BUILDING TO SERVE
As we take a pause over Christmas from our regular weekly prayer meetings for Building to Serve, it seems a good time to give a brief update to help us each continue to pray in our own time over this holiday period.
To date I can confirm that close to an astonishing £2.3 million has been received in gifts and pledges. We can only praise God for such provision at a time when many charities have experienced huge drops in their fundraising.
We are now well on our way through the planning process for The Branch, and have had a very useful meeting with the Diocesan Advisory Committee about our planned church improvements. We need to wait for their formal response before continuing the initial preparations and investigations required prior to beginning the planning process for the church.
We are blessed with an extraordinary team of ambassadors who are promoting The Branch to local philanthropists and continue to pray for positive conversations with potential supporters. We also have a list of Trusts that we will approach next year to help us with the funding for both projects. The success of the Big Give has left us in a strong position to fund our ongoing outreach work and we are submitting grant applications over Christmas that, we pray, will support our youth, children's and families work.
So we take a break for Christmas with much to be thankful for, and much to pray for. Thank you for all the incredible support we have received as a staff team from you all, through acts of service, prayer and giving. It is truly extraordinary to be a member of such an active and resourceful church family.
SETTING A WATCH
We'll be continuing to meet to pray via Zoom at 6am and 6pm daily for our world, nation, community, church and each other.
Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown - recommended by Ursula
I loved reading ’Sensible Shoes’ by Sharon Garlough Brown! It was recommended to me by a mutual grannie (we share 4 grandchildren). After reading it, I immediately bought the sequel which I’m holding off reading until I’m on holiday…
It follows the stories of 4 very different women who land up (mostly somewhat against their will) on a spiritual formation course at a retreat centre. We follow their very human stories as they engage with each other and with God. Along the way, we, the reader, find ourselves also engaging with God through the spiritual practices which the women are taught. It’s a good follow on from the ‘Rule of Life’ teaching series. Don’t in any way think of it as a ‘heavy’ book. It isn’t!! Very readable. Read it as a novel - or go as deep as you want.
Everyone has questions about what life is all about. We believe that everyone should have a chance to share those questions, explore the Christian faith and give their point of view.
Alpha is a place where you can ask those questions in an honest, friendly and open environment.
In recent months at St Mary's, God has been extending our vision to serve the town in an exciting, ambitious and creative way at a time of substantially increasing need for many within our community...
So many people in our community feel the weight of debt, and we are passionate about helping to release anyone we can from a life sentence of debt and poverty. At St Mary's we are working with Christians Against Poverty to bring good news, hope and freedom. If you need support, we'd love to hear from you.