This is always a well supported service but we anticipated that there would be more present this year and there most certainly were. During the last few weeks we have shown many of the children from our local school around the church. And we have demonstrated and explained how a Christingle is made, and why.
Extra chairs were bought into church to accommodate the many children. parents and grandparents who came. One of the readings was by The Head of our local school. In his homily Father Martin had a brother and a sister from one of the families come to help him. The boy looked the oldest as his sister was quite small but it turned out she was the oldest. Father talked to them, and to us all about the importance of sharing and how The Children’s Society through it’s work shared resources with deprived children. The Christingles were handed out and lit and with the church in darkness except for the Christingles we sang “Once in Royal David’s City” Father Mervyn played the organ for the service.
A record congregation celebrated Our Lord’s Birthday at this tremendous act of worship when we offered the sacrifice of the Solemn Mass of the Lord’s Nativity. Clouds of incense preceded the Procession of servers and clergy, bearing the Bambino to the Altar ready to be placed in the Crib at the end of Mass. Father Martin was the principle celebrant and Father Mervyn concelebrated and preached. In his homily, Father Mervyn drew our attention to the role played by the Innkeeper at Bethlehem who, in a single act of kindness and generosity, made his own family's accommodation available to Our Lady so that she could have some privacy at the birth of Jesus. That act had been remembered for over two thousand years. In the course of our lives we might be presented with an opportunity to do something, some act of kindness, and it could be, that it too might have similar ramifications. The welcome we give to the stranger could be the welcome we give to the Lord himself “inasmuch as you did it to the least of my brethren, you did it unto me”.
At the end of the service, as we sang the last verse of Adeste Fideles “Yea Lord we greet Thee” the Bambino was taken and placed in the Crib which was blessed by prayer, Holy Water and incense. After the Solemn Blessing we processed to the Sacristy and then we went to the Parish Hall for Sherry and Mince Pies.
MASS OF THE DAY
Once again at this Mass we had a record attendance and a record making their Communion and again the church was filled with clouds of incense. Father Mervyn was the principle celebrant and Father Martin concelebrated and preached.
Many thanks to all those who made Christmas so special: the Choir and our Organist & Choirmaster Jon, Ray and his team of Servers, the Readers and Ministers of the Blessed Sacrament, those who arranged the flowers, decorated the Church and the Christmas Tree, those who cleaned the Church, those who put out chairs and put them away afterwards; in fact, many thanks to everybody who made the Celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord such a wonderful occasion at St Augustine’s 2011.