Dear Church member,
"The rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace" (Luke 1:78b-79).
In the midst of gloomy headlines and thick cloud above, the challenges of life can cast a shadow over us, or even threaten to overwhelm. The story of the Bible realistically speaks of the darkness in this world and in human hearts, of broken relationships, suffering and death. But the darkness is constantly pierced by the light of God's abiding presence with his people - in wilderness, in Exile, and in the everyday.
The shepherds were just ordinary folk going about their ordinary lives, when during the darkest earthly hour a heavenly light broke through, accompanied by ecstatic angelic song and an enthralling vision of the glory of God. With the announcement of the divine dawn was a message of hope for every human being, and indeed for the whole of creation. God himself has come into his world to bring love, joy and peace. To bring light that even the deepest darkness cannot overcome.
"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness"
Jesus, John 12:46
It is good to celebrate Christmas together as a church family. As well as our in-person services, we are also continuing with online Sunday worship plus a special online service for Christmas Day. Please consider the online option if you are able. Online services found here.
We have five in-person services in the benefice over the next 24 hours, but given the recent increase in Covid incidence and transmission, we are practising social distancing, good ventilation, use of hand sanitiser on the door, and other recommended measures such as lateral flow tests before attending (for those who are able). There will be no refreshments after the services, and at All Saints' we will not be singing (though we will have recorded music). Please note that Government regulations require those over the age of 10 (unless exempt) to wear face coverings in church.
10.00pm All Saints' Chilton - 'Midnight' Communion [said]
11.30pm St Matthew's Harwell - 'Midnight' Communion
9.30am All Saints' Chilton - Worship for All Ages [said]
11.00am St Matthew's Harwell - Worship for All Ages
12 noon St Matthew's Harwell - short service of Holy Communion [said]
Boxing Day onwards
We are planning to have in-person services on Boxing Day at 9.30am in Chilton (Morning Worship), and 11.30am in Harwell (Holy Communion) - with singing! - but there will be no evening service.
Everything is subject to change (which we will publicise as necessary by email, on our website, and on Facebook), but we are currently planning for a 'normal' set of services (9.30/10.00/11.30/6.00) the following Sunday, 2nd January, and our regular pattern of in-person service thereafter.
Courses in the New Year
Do please take note of and being praying about two courses starting late January.
The Alpha Course
A hugely popular video and discussion-based 11 week course that makes space for a conversation about faith, life and God. Do be thinking and praying about this, and whether you might like to take part and/or invite a friend, neighbour, colleague or family member. Taster evening Monday 24th January, more info from Deborah.
Living in Love and Faith
This new, five-session course on Wednesday evenings beginning 26th January provides a structured and accessible way to learn about and reflect on questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage. Including short-story films, Bible passages and discussion, it is designed to inspire us to think more deeply about what it means to be human, and for followers of Jesus to walk in love, faith and holiness today.
The church office will be closed until 4th January, but do please contact me directly if needed.
The Collect for Christmas Night
who made this most holy night
to shine with the brightness of your one true light:
bring us, who have known the revelation
of that light on earth,
to see the radiance of your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
May you have a joyful Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
Yours, in Christ,
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton