There can’t be anyone who wouldn’t welcome an injection of light and joy into their lives as 2020 draws to a close, so I hope that you’ll all find that, as you give yourselves over to celebrating the true meaning of Christmas.
Like me, you’ll have heard some very different claims this year about what will save us… Huffington Post joined the Los Angeles Times in telling their readers that "The science will save us”. The Daily Telegraph told us that “Only the vaccine can save us now”. Boris Johnson is confident that he will lead us to "prosper mightily” next year, and I’m not even going to begin to start quoting Donald Trump!
It’s nothing new for people to claim that they hold some new key to our salvation. There have been many false dawns, many false messiahs, but Christmas helps us to recalibrate and recentre our sights on the only true Saviour: Isaiah pointed forward to him with the words “The people walking in deep darkness have seen a light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned”. He was speaking about Jesus: the one who has now come to open our eyes to the true light - the greater, deeper reality that, in him God has revealed himself to us. “Unto us a child is born”.
Jesus is the only one who can ever save us, and he is with us: Emmanuel.
That's the only news that will ever bring light and joy that can’t ever be extinguished.
That’s the news that we’ve been taking out into our community; and the joy that we’ve been able to bring to people in recent weeks, as we’ve reflected small sparks of the true light of the hope of Jesus into their lives, has brought tears to our eyes time and time again.
May you shine that same light into the lives of the people whom God has placed around you this Christmas, and may you be lifted up and blessed yourselves as you let him wrap you in his loving embrace.
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
John 1:4-5, 11-13
Sunday 27th December 10.30am - No service. (Look out for "It's Sunday!" for suggestions for worship at home.) Sunday 3rd January 10.30am - No service in church. Sunday service video on our website, for everyone to watch, led by the youth. Sunday 10th January 10.30am - service in church with livestreaming
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.
Thursday 24th December 2pm - 4pm - Christingle Nativity Trail around Chippy Thursday 24th December 11.30pm - Midnight Communion service in church Friday 25th December 10.30am - Christmas Family Celebration in church
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.
Start at the Town Hall steps between 2pm and 3.30pm.
MIDNIGHT COMMUNION SERVICE
Christmas Eve . 11.30pm . St. Mary's Church (not livestreamed)
See Christmas in with a traditional midnight Communion service. (With social distancing and facemasks.)
Christmas Day . 10.30am . St. Mary's Church (livestreamed)
Join with the whole family to celebrate Christmas! You'd be so welcome to join us for our Christmas morning all-age service, either in person or from your home. With carols and songs from our music team, fun from our children's pastor and plenty of Christmas joy and cheer.
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.