Blog wise, I’ve been a bit lazy over Christmas and New Year, so now I have a bit of catching up to do. Although I have been ‘on duty’, such work as I have done has been confined to preparation for the numerous worship services over the period. The fact that Christmas Day was a Sunday this year gave the season a different rhythm than usual.
For me Christmas really began with the Carol Service at Archway on 22nd December. The following day was devoted to that other Christmas tradition Fighting Through the Crowds at Morrison’s. Half of the day seemed to be given over to queuing – queuing for the supermarket till, queuing for a minicab home.
For me Christmas Eve was a mixture of worship preparation and dinner table preparation. Up to Archway for choir practice in the morning, back again in the evening for Midnight Communion. I don’t think the Christmas Eve service is the time to be innovative – I usually stick closely to the liturgy for Christmas in the Methodist Worship Book.
Then it was back again on Christmas morning for an ‘all-age’ worship celebration. I really enjoy being in church on Christmas Day and we always have a good congregation at Archway. Families (including students at home from university) make the effort to be in church at Christmas. What doesn’t work is the tradition of a previous church where Christmas morning always included a ten minute slot whereby children and adults could show off the presents they had received. It was good fun having radio controlled cars whizzing round the church or dads showing off their Christmas novelty tie. But here everyone seems to open their presents after church. (One teenager looked at me as if I were mad for suggesting we bring presents to church on Christmas Day: ‘why would I want to bring my presents to church?’) I guess we just need to focus on the Christmas story instead, which isn’t such a bad thing.
We bring forward the service at Archway to 10.30am, which allows me to get to my second service of Christmas Day at Islington Central Methodist Church. I arrived five minutes after the scheduled starting time of 11.30am – usually no problem as the congregation is never on time. To my surprise the service was already underway – led by one of our local preachers. I gathered that they had already been meeting for some time, so went straight into an address followed by prayers of intercession and the final hymn (O come, all ye faithful). We were finished by twelve. Why the service started earlier than the published time I still haven’t found out, though it seems everyone else but me knew about it! Christmas Day is not a time for inquests and arguments, so I accepted the gift of getting home earlier than expected. No doubt in due course someone from the church will offer an explanation.
After all this, Christmas Day was just a matter of relaxing and enjoying the company of our guests. We were joined by Sophia’s boyfriend Dan’s parents – the first time we had entertained them – as well as a couple of Filipino friends Marina and Erick. Afterwards Erick said that it was the best Christmas he had celebrated in the three years he had been in the UK. Last year we celebrated Christmas in the Philippines. That was very special – but this year being at home, with family and friends, was even more special.