A good congregation gathered at 4.30 p.m. for the Annual Christingle Service conducted by Father Martin. One of the teachers from St. Edwards Church of England School read the First Reading and the Head of Rush Green Primary School read the Second. In his address Father Martin introduced a rubber turkey which talked to him with a “squeak”. The turkey maintained he was not a turkey but a chicken although he looked very much like a turkey to everyone there. His various antics as Father Martin explained the Christingle Service had everybody in fits of laughter including the organist for the service Father Mervyn. The church looked lovely when all the lights were turned off and the children and some of the adults held their lighted candles whilst there were many other candles lit all around the church.
The church was lit by candles for the Solemn Mass of Midnight with just very subdued lighting to enable the congregation to read the Mass and Hymn Books. Father Martin and Father Mervyn concelebrated the Mass. Father Mervyn preached the sermon in which he drew attention to the generosity of the Innkeeper in responding to Joseph’s desperate plea for somewhere for Mary to deliver her baby, letting the Holy Family use the stable-cave at the rear of the Inn which the Innkeeper’s family would normally use themselves at busy times. He said that Joseph had showed generosity in his response to the message of the angel in taking Mary as his wife and caring for her, despite his doubts over her pregnancy. Mary’s response to God’s call to her had been equally generous in accepting the role that she had been given that she had been specially chosen by God to be the bearer of His Son. Finally, he said that the most generous gift of all was God’s gift to humankind when he gave us His Only Son to be our Saviour. He ended with the text “God so loved the world that he gave his Only Son that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life” It must be our act of generosity in response to God’s love for us to make the good news known to everyone we can. At the end of the well-attended Mass, Father Martin blessed the Christmas Crib and the Bambino was placed in it. Afterwards we enjoyed Sherry and Mince pies in the Hall.
We wondered, after the good attendances at the Christingle and the Midnight Mass, and the bitterly cold weather, if we might find Mass attendance somewhat depleted – it wasn’t. Father Mervyn and Father Martin concelebrated the Mass and Father Martin preached whilst Father Mervyn led us in prayer. During the singing of the Hymn “Away in a Manger” a little boy from the congregation came up the aisle to the Altar Steps. Father Martin went to him and then they both sat on the steps for the hymn and then Father carried him back to his parents. It was a most moving moment and touched the hearts of everybody present.
THE HOLY FAMILY/SOLEMNITY OF ST. STEPHEN Sunday 26th December
Again, today a good congregation came to the Solemn Mass concelebrated by Father Martin and Father Mervyn. Father Martin preached whilst Father Mervyn led us in prayer. We learnt this morning that the turkey who appeared for the first time at the Christingle was called Kenny Farmworthy Chicken - a likely story. Most of us still think he is a turkey in disguise just because it’s Christmas and he didn’t want to end up as somebody’s Christmas Dinner. Having successfully escaped the oven, the destination of many turkey’s this time of year, he will be making another appearance on Sunday 2nd January 2011.
This has been a very good Christmas at St. Augustine’s and we have been blessed with good congregations at every service – Deo Gratias.
Mass will be celebrated on Monday – St. John the Evangelist, Tuesday – The Holy Innocents Thursday and Saturday – Mary, Mother of God at 10.00 a.m.