Parish newsletter

Northwold, Wretton and Stoke Ferry services for December and an update on Parish events.

The Parishes of St. Andrew, Northwold; All Saints, Wretton with Stoke Ferry;

and Christ Church, Whittington.

For more details contact me, Keith MacLeod at West Barn, Whindrove Farm, West Dereham (07766 766 137) (email: keith.macleod@virgin.net)

Diary for November 2003

Sunday 30th November (Advent)

11.00am All Age Worship at St Andrews

Sunday 7th December (2nd Sunday of Advent)

9.30am Service of The Word at Christ Church

11.00am Holy Communion at St Andrews

Sunday 14th December (3rd Sunday of Advent)

9.30am Service of the Word at All Saints

11.00am Praise & Worship at St Andrews

3.00pm Christingle at St Andrews

6.30 pm Advent & Christmas Carol Service

at St Andrews

Sunday 21st December (4th Sunday of Advent)

8.00am Holy Communion at St Andrews

9.30am Holy Communion by Extension

at Christ Church

6.30pm Carol Service (jointly with Stoke Ferry

Methodists (All Saints OR SF Sanctuary)

24th December (Christmas Eve)

11.30pm Holy Communion at St Andrews

11.30pm Holy Communion at Christ Church

25th December (Christmas Day)

9.30am Service of the Word at All Saints

11.00am Matins at St Andrews

28th December (1st Sunday of Christmas)

9.30am Benefice Holy Communion

at All Saints

4th January (Epiphany Sunday)

9.30am Service of the Word at Christ Church

11.00am Matins at St Andrews

Sunday School – All Welcome

There is a Sunday School during the main Sunday services at St. Andrew’s Church, Northwold (except for Sunday’s with All Age Worship). This is open to any school age child living in the villages of Northwold, Wretton, Stoke Ferry, Whittington and Brookville. If you are not able to stay with your child please drop them off by 10.50 and collect them by 12.15.

Rotas for Church cleaning and flowers

December Christ Church: Mrs S Warner &Mrs J Elsey All Saints’: Mrs E Russell and Mrs P Willis

January Christ Church: Mrs P Voutt & Angie All Saints’: Mrs E Russell and Mrs P Willis

ADVENT & CHRISTMAS

It would be very easy for me to write, as so many of us do, about the way that the Christian message of Christmas has been swamped in the trite and at times frankly disgusting commercialism of entertainment, cards and presents. But I wonder if that is fair. In fact, it is probably pretty hypocritical. Most of us, as we criticise, continue to draw up our Christmas card lists and continue to worry about how to find yet another present for that family member who has it all and does not need a thing; or, far far worse, worry about how we can find the money at all to buy presents for our children, even if only so that they can hold their heads up among their fellows. The pressure of Christmas is horrendous for far too many of us.

So where, I ask, is Jesus in all this and how can I find him, because he IS here. Where there is misery or difficulty or pain Jesus is there available to help. And to comfort. But he can be awfully difficult to find without help. Even the Pope has his spiritual helpers, to whom he turns when he is troubled, to help him to find where the Comforter is.

If we had none of the pressure of Christmas, if there was none of the razzamatazz, the colour and the sparkle, many people throughout the world who have heard of Jesus would not have done so. We may lose sight of the message and the story, but they are there to be found – to be found rather easily. You only have to scratch the surface. How many non-Christians are profoundly moved by Handel’s Messiah or the other great Christian Oratorios? If you need to find the Comforter, the story in some sort of sketchy form is already there built into the world’s culture. Throughout the world, we no longer talk (at least not officially) of this being the year 2003 AD (Anno Domini, meaning in Latin ‘the Year of the Lord’), but of 2003 CE (ie the Christian Era). It is not difficult to find someone, including many non Christians, who can give a short account of the birth of Jesus in a stable, the Shepherds, the Wise Men and to say that in some way this historical Jesus changed the world. In English Sign Language (possibly in American and how many other national sign languages), the sign for Jesus is to alternately and gently press the point of the middle finger of one hand into the centre of the palm of the other – a quite beautiful and sometimes irresistibly moving reminder of the nails of the Cross – just saying the name tells the story.

I would invite anyone suffering from the pressure of Christmas (or from anything else at all) to simply go into one of our Churches for ten minutes and sit quietly and ask for nothing, but peace. All our Churches open half an hour or so before our published Services and stay open for as long afterwards. It is not necessary to attend the Services. It is not necessary to talk to anyone, no one will intrude. We tend to have cold Churches in winter, but that is no barrier to a short period of quiet meditation. Wretton Church is open during daylight hours almost every day of the year.

For those of us who are Christians and bewail the hubbub of commercial Christmas and miss the focus that Christmas used to have – just the couple of weeks before and after the Day – whereas now we are assailed from October – let us not be too concerned. It is for us to find Jesus in all this and to separate out our belief and worship from our social activity. More than that we should be grateful that the story of Jesus is so strong that it is now heard all around the world, even without (possibly preferably without!) the ministrations of missionaries and evangelists.

We are actually in the season of Advent, as I write and as this is published. This is meant to be a time of preparation and reflection – it is meant to be a time of sadness and hope. Sadness, because God’s first promise to the people of Israel was not matched by their response so that He had to make another stronger and unilateral promise to all mankind – hope because God now promises us all the experience of eternity, even though we do not deserve it, if we will only come to him, in whatever way we can. Christmas is the first step on the way to the gift of that promise.

So as we come to Christmas itself, join in the joy and excitement – watch your favourite old films on TV, do what makes you excited and happy. Remember that, as a member of the human race, you have a right to look forward with hope and pleasure – as the Christmas season fades away, do not forget its joy and let it affect for the better the way we live our lives and the way we look at our problems. If nothing else, let Christmas teach us how to share our troubles just as we share our gifts and discover that the problems can be borne and even overcome, just as the gifts can be enjoyed and shared

As we look forward to seeing the images of the Baby Jesus in the manger, I wish you all a Happy and Holy Christmas.

Keith MacLeod

Reader

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