In recent years, St Nick’s has seen a considerable increase in participation in our Christmas events (something which reflects national church trends). There is a hunger for connection as Christmas approaches. Thus, for several years, we’ve hosted the local Christmas Tree Lights Switch-On which brings hundreds of people into the church. It’s become the traditional local signal
for the start of the festive season. In addition, we’ve seen our Christingle and Community Carol services grow in size and popularity, and that’s before onementions the many successful concerts given by the Greater Manchester Voices.
This year looks like being especially busy. In addition to the Christmas Tree Lights Switch-On on 30th November, there will be the usual Community Carol Service on 16th December at 3pm, as well as a full programme of Christmas services on Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day. This year, Greater Manchester Voices are holding an open evening on 20th December
rather than a full concert. Do join them, if you can! Of course, on 9th December, at our usual 10.30am service, we shall hold a very special Christingle. It will mark our 90th Anniversary as a parish. The service will be presided over by Mark, the Bishop of Middleton, and it will bring together friends old and new to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the parish of St Nicholas Burnage; it will also give us an opportunity to look forward to how we can continue to grow and evolve as a community.
On 8th December, at 10.30am, I should also like to invite you to come and join me at the Rectory for a Christmas Coffee Morning. I remember fondly how Vera and Sybil Gawkrodger used to hold a Christmas get-together and I’d like to reinstitute it. I’m no mince-pie baker, so I may have to rely on other people’s skills! However, I’m sure I can dig out some brandy to slip into your
coffees! Of course, there will be other opportunities to share fun, fellowship and reflection during Advent and Christmas. Do check your notice sheets regarding these.
However, a little note of caution. For all the busyness that December brings, it is important that we don’t lose sight of our true focus. Without it, all the tinsel and partying is mere clanging bells and sounding fury.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to be a killjoy. Far from it. Advent and Christmas are extraordinary seasons. Let us dare, then, to use December as an opportunity to prepare and pray and ready ourselves for the feast. But the point of that preparation is Jesus Christ.
How easy it is for any of us to lose sight of the centrality of Christ to our festal joy. In my busyness I can get a little lost. Many clergy find December such a bewildering marathon that the only thing they look forward to on Christmas day afternoon is a good sleep! This is understandable. We are all limited human beings. Yet, there are richer and deeper joys in our Advent preparations and Christmas feasting than trying to get the ‘big day’ right.
Ultimately, there is one Christmas gift: Jesus Christ. In his nativity, our hope takes flesh; in Christ’s vulnerability is the promise of peace and riches abounding. May you know his love, delight and wonder, this Advent and Christmastide.