This has been a remarkably challenging year for everyone. Our weekly and daily opportunities for worship and prayer have had to change as the situation changed around us with all our public services being broadcast live on Twitch.tv/revdrichardcherryburton and also on our YouTube channel for those who would like to catch-up at a later date. In light of this I am finding the celebration of Christmas has taken on a deeper significance. We have found a broader range of people able to engage with worship online, including the housebound and those who need to shield. We are still very much in the grip of this pandemic and whilst there is the new vaccine being rolled out now, it comes a little too late for most of us to enable the usual Christmas programme.
With that in mind I want to lay out my plans for what our Christmas services will look like in this very odd year.
We are kicking off our Christmas celebrations on the 20th December at 10am with a morning of carols sung by our own St Michael’s choir. We are not able to sing as a congregation, but we have a plan to enable our choir to sing some of everyone’s favourite carols, live and COVID safe. This will be limited to 30 people in the building but will also be broadcast live and then uploaded to our YouTube channel afterwards.
On the 22nd December weather permitting I am opening-up the Rectory Garden to give us a safe space to sing some carols together. We can’t sing inside but we are allowed to be safely distanced in our households/bubbles outside and sing. This will be a rolling programme of carols from 1pm through to 2.30pm so pop along in a socially responsible and safe way and ‘fa-la-la’ your ‘boughs of holly’.
Then on the 23rd December at 7pm we are showing both on the big screen at church and broadcast on our Twitch channel, a brilliant Carol Service, which has been put together by one of our mission partners, Compassion UK. This will be an hour-long carol service, which is uplifting and faith-building. Together we’ll celebrate the hope of the Christmas message with heart-warming Christmas carol singing and Bible readings in a traditional church setting with a contemporary twist. There will be classic Christmas carols performed by Compassion ambassadors and close friends Philippa Hanna, Noel Robinson, Graham Kendrick, the London Community Gospel Choir, Hillsong London, Lurine Cato MBE, Martin Smith and Elle Limebear. The service will include;
Carol service readings from around the world.
Festive songs performed by Compassion-supported children and young people.
An uplifting spoken word by Dai Woolridge.
A message on the hope of the Christmas story brought by Richmond Wandera, Compassion graduate and now senior pastor of New Life Baptist Church, Kampala, and the Founder and Director of the Pastors Discipleship Network.
Then on Christmas Eve we continue with a Christingle event that will be hosted via our Church Zoom account. We are getting ready to deliver ready-to-make Christingles in time for you to join in at 4.30pm on Zoom to celebrate, laugh and remember the most significant meaning of Christmas; Jesus, the light of the world coming and dwelling among us. If you would like a free Christingle pack please order one via our church website www.stmichaelscherryburton.org.uk
I have made the decision not to try and run our usual Midnight Communion this year, but we will have our usual 8.30am BCP Holy Communion on Christmas Morning and our 10am Family Christmas Celebration. Then on the 27th December the wonderful Adrian Wallace will be leading us in a relaxed and informal Christmas season service at 10am.
There is a ticket booking service live on our website to allow you to book into any of these services in the Church Building. The address for this is www.stmichaelscherryburton.org.uk
Do bear in mind though that all the indoor services will be available live on our Twitch.tv channel (www.twitch.tv/revdrichardcherryburton) which is free to view and also uploaded to our YouTube Channel and Facebook Page for viewing later.
Thank you for your support and kindness this year, and as we celebrate in quite different ways may we continue to hold each other in loving compassion and care.