Last month I wrote about our mutual belonging both as members of this wonderful community and that of the wider community and family as God’s church in this place. This month we once again look forward and celebrate the coming of God into our world through the birth of his son Jesus all those years ago into a small town to an ordinary young couple who were to become extraordinary in God’s plan for humankind. Named as ‘Emmanuel’ in Matthew’s gospel, through earlier prophecy, this means ‘God is with us’. This is truly the ultimate in mutual belonging isn’t it?
Well this month there is much to help us prepare for Christmas and beyond. As you read this the Christmas trees will be lighting the way up to church once again this year and I hope many of you will come and join us at one of our many Christmas services. You will see the lighted Christmas trees illustrating our Christmas card which you should receive early this month outlining all the details. Please do also study the calendar of church services and events in this magazine though too!
We are hoping to deliver some Christmas hampers to any who are in need in the village so if you know of anyone who might enjoy a few Christmas treats please do let me know as soon as possible. For many, Christmas is a difficult time of year especially for those undergoing financial hardship and bereavement and it is lovely to know that others are thinking of you. The Christmas prayer tree will also be placed in church near the front, where you can write a prayer for yourself, for others or in remembrance of someone.
We once again welcome our donkeys to Capel as they help us act out the Nativity along with I hope lots of children. Costumes are supplied but do come ready dressed up if you wish! You can never have too many angels or shepherds or anything else for that matter! This will also be our gift service where we welcome wrapped gifts for those in need in the Brixton area. We have been sending gifts to them for many years now and they are so grateful for them so do drop them into church beforehand if it’s more convenient or on the day!
For our traditional Carol service this year we are following a slightly different format with a narrator helping the story along, but there will be the usual selection of traditional carols and choir pieces to enjoy. Norman’s mulled wine and Joy’s mince pies will help us on our way after the service. This year Christmas Eve is on a Sunday so I have four services to do that day! Come and help me, either at 8 or 10am, the lovely Crib service at 4pm and the first communion of Christmas at 11pm. By midnight we will be ready to light candles and sing Silent Night as Christmas Day dawns. Then the big day when there will be one service only at 10 o clock, to which children and adults for that matter can share one of their Christmas presents with us and help us celebrate the birth of Jesus. And don’t forget that on New Year’s Eve you can put the past behind you and welcome in the New Year with our informal service of Café Church!
As we look forward to the beginning of 2018 you may recall that I have previously written that our church parish of Capel is planning to unite with St Margaret’s Ockley, becoming a united parish but within the overarching care of The Surrey Weald Team. That process has now reached the time of public consultation and you will be able to see a copy of the draft Pastoral Scheme in the church porch. There is also a copy of a Notice about the scheme on the Notice board by the Lychgate. Anyone may make representations for or against all or any part or parts of the draft scheme and you will see how to do that on the displayed notices. In the meantime I am of course happy to talk to anyone about the proposed scheme. If there are no representations then we hopefully will be united early in the New Year which is a very exciting prospect and we wish our friends at Ockley peace and joy this Christmastime too!
So, God chose seemingly ordinary people to be the parents of his son entrusting Jesus to their care and as I said earlier, through that event they became extraordinary. The truth is through Jesus’ birth we all have the potential to become extraordinary to God. We are all loved and cherished by him and he will never leave us. I do hope this Christmas will bring you the peace of the Christ child, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the perseverance of the wise men and the obedience of Joseph and Mary in whichever way you find yourself celebrating Christmas this year. I pray that you will find some quiet and solace as you are reminded of what Christmas is really all about and that is welcoming the Saviour of the world ‘Emmanuel’ into our midst. With my love and prayers and wishing you and your families a Happy Christmas!