Updated: Jan 15, 2022
'Greetings, most favoured one! The Lord is with you!' - what reassuring words from the angel Gabriel to a surprised Mary!
The next few days in the benefice bring wonderful opportunities to hear the Christmas story told in carols and readings both indoors and outdoors.
In order to keep everyone safe churches continue to follow the Government's Plan B and the Church of England's guidance based on it. This means that face coverings are mandatory in churches unless you’re exempt. (You can view a list of exemptions here.) In addition, please see attached the risk assessments for each event and service taking place in the Benefice in this busy Christmas period, carefully drawn up by Revd Lizzie with everyone’s safety in mind.
Please be aware of different levels of comfort with the risks around Covid, in order to take care of each other. One way is to remember the simple ‘hands face space’ guidance, to make use of the hand sanitiser provided in church and maintain physical distance. Please use the track and trace register or QR code as it helps with managing transmission and increases a sense of safety so that everyone can enjoy Christmas worship to the full. Thank you for your co-operation.
This Sunday 19th December
10.00am – Creative Church at St.Mary's led by Revd Lizzie and Revd Diane. We will be making Christmas crackers with a difference!
10.30am - Holy Communion at All Saints with Revd Janey -
with final Junior Church Rehearsal for the Nativity Play in the Hall
4.30pm – Nativity service at All Saints, led by Junior Church
6.30pm - Carols by Candlelight at St. Mary's
with Revd Janey leading and Revd Lizzie preaching
In the week ahead, we have two services:
Wednesday 22nd - 9.00am Celtic Morning Prayer at All Saints Thursday 23rd - 10.00am Holy Communion at St Mary’s
Looking ahead to our Christmas Services
All Saints holds it's Carol Around the Yew Tree on Weds 22nd December (with Christingles) at 6:30pm.
St Stephens Day
Carols by Candlelight
St Stephens Day
4.00pm - Family Carols
11:30pm - Midnight Mass
Finally.... A Reflection on Mary and ourselves
This Sunday we light the fourth candle on our Advent ring to remember Mary, the mother of Jesus. I wonder what Mary means to you? Mary has been revered with many titles over the centuries - Queen of Heaven, Our Lady and Mystic Rose. As a peasant in the Middle Ages the image of a beautiful and compassionate Mary might lift your gaze temporarily above the daily grind of everyday life. Mary as a motherly role model, protective yet approachable, would be a warmly reassuring figure.
Today, however, we may have mixed feelings about some of these traditional images of Mary. We may be uncomfortable with her motherhood being treated as the highest vocation for all women. And, whereas the Bible tells us nothing of Mary's physical appearance, it says much about her qualities of character that all Christians can imitate. Perhaps a more helpful way to view Mary then is to notice her positive and trusting response to God in the face of challenges. She moves through fear, joy, wonder, reflection, conflict and grief, remaining a faithful disciple of Christ from his conception to his death and resurrection. Could Mary then inspire our perseverance through this COVID pandemic? - let's hope so.
One of the most powerful names Mary is known by is Theotókos which literally means, 'God-bearer'. Theotókos is a reminder that Mary's baby, Jesus, is both fully human and fully divine. Amazingly, when you think about it, we are also called to be God-bearers, as disciples of Jesus Christ. May God give you confidence to carry to friends and neighbours this message - that the tiny baby is also the world's Saviour - who meets us in all our hopes and fears this Christmas and beyond.
Might we dare to hear Gabriel’s divine message to Mary, for ourselves in Fishponds too? I certainly hope so.
Greetings, highly favoured ones. God is with you!
Revd Diane, deacon