So Vicar, what happened to this year’s memorial service? Did you forget? Well no I did not forget the memorial service, but like many other churches we are looking at different ways to help people honour the memory of those who have died. As less funerals are taken by Vicars or lay ministers, so there are less people to invite to a memorial services.
People all grieve differently and are ready for a memorial service at different times, and some want to come more than once. People also feel grief more intensely at certain times of the year: Christmas, Mothers day, Fathers Day
So we have decided to try to have different services to allow people to remember at different times of the year. The first will be on the Saturday 5th December - “Memories and Carols” - at 6pm in St John the Baptist at Wadworth.
We will sing some carols, read some poetry and have some bible readings. Yes everyone will have a chance to light a candle and yes we will read out names - you can give us the names as you arrive. Those remembered can have died recently or a long time ago. You don’t need to be invited - just come.
Times and places of other services can be found elsewhere in the magazine. On the way to christmas, there will be the usual carol, christingle, and crib services. We celebrate the birth of Jesus at 11:30pm on Christmas eve at midnight mass. Christmas Day morning service will at 10am in St John the Evangelist, Balby. All will be welcome to stop for turkey sandwiches and stuffing followed by mince pies and custard.
Last month I wrote about how the humble conker had re-awakened my sense of awe in creation and just as we can take nature for granted we can take God for granted. It is also so easy to take Christmas for granted as we focus on making Christmas “perfect”. We stress about Christmas dinner, about presents, about trees and decorations, about what to wear at parties, and numerous other things. Yet we often miss the point that Christmas has always been perfect and always will be perfect because it is about none of the above “stresses” but about the perfect gift from God to us.
Christmas is about us humans knowing that God so loved us that he does not want to be remote, distant - up there somewhere - but with us. We sometimes need to suspend our questions, and just consider that God steps in to our world with all its mess, hatred, cruelty, pain suffering (that we cause by the way) so that we can understand God better. By being born into humanity we can get to know God by getting to know his son Jesus.
The coming of Christ in the physical form as a baby through Mary can be echoed through the coming of Christ into our lives in Spirit through our faith. Each time we make a choice to walk in the ways of Christ rather than walk our own way. So we prepare for Christmas it is worth reminding ourselves that God’s gift can be born in us as well.
As we approach the celebration of Christmas day, may our lives be one of preparation for the coming of Christ, not just a consumer driven rush of infilling. So my challenge to you is to re-discover your sense of awe of Christmas. The beautiful simplicity of a child born in a manger, visited by shepherds and wise men, hunted by a ruthless tyrant, and protected by faithful parents - and all because God loves us.
Have a truly awesome time