St John the Baptist Parish Church

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News from the clergy

Vicar's column - December 2016

There is a danger of our occupying parallel universes throughout December. The church marks the season of Advent; the season of waiting, of expectancy. At the same time the commercial world is full throttle into Christmas and I confess to having got ahead with my Christmas shopping in order to survive. Then when the church is celebrating Christmastide and Epiphanytide, the secular world has had a gut full of mince pies and carols. Our spiritual and secular lives are at dissonance.

Liturgically, we remain in Advent until Christmas Eve when we hold our Crib service. Unavoidably, though, we slide into Christmas mode with the round of School carol services and our own “Nine Lessons and Carols”, all of which, are undoubtedly, a wonderful opportunity to draw in our wider community.

Christmas is much more then than simply the celebration of Jesus’ birth, but it is Christ’s nativity that has provided the occasion for this festival of the incarnation, since the end of the third century. The Christmas Crib and the Nativity Play can both be said to descend from the tableau of Christ’s birth that St Francis arranged when he celebrated Christmas at Greccio in 1223. Christmas carols are a mediaeval tradition, which has been notably developed from the end of the nineteenth century. The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is itself an influential English creation of the late nineteenth century, made widespread by the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, in the first half of the twentieth.

Traditionally, the Christmas season has been celebrated for twelve days, ending with Epiphany, which in turn ends with the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple on 2nd February. It has become a still greater challenge to celebrate the saints of the Christmas season: St Stephen (26th December), who first paid with his life for following Christ; St John (27th December), who was believed to have lived to great old age in profound meditation on the Word made flesh; and the Holy Innocents (28th December), who draw our attention to the plight of children in a world where children are still massacred.

In the run up to Christmas, hold onto Advent; to the great themes of darkness before dawn, the hidden germination of the seed in the earth and the hope for things not yet seen. Then, our Christmas celebrations will carry their full force of joy and anticipation fulfilled.

Rev Lisa Cornwell

Vicar's column - December 2016

There is a danger of our occupying parallel universes throughout December. The church marks the season of Advent; the season of waiting, of expectancy. At the same time the commercial world is full throttle into Christmas and I confess to having got ahead with my Christmas shopping in order to survive. Then when the church is celebrating Christmastide and Epiphanytide, the secular world has had a gut full of mince pies and carols. Our spiritual and secular lives are at dissonance.

Liturgically, we remain in Advent until Christmas Eve when we hold our Crib service. Unavoidably, though, we slide into Christmas mode with the round of School carol services and our own “Nine Lessons and Carols”, all of which, are undoubtedly, a wonderful opportunity to draw in our wider community.

Christmas is much more then than simply the celebration of Jesus’ birth, but it is Christ’s nativity that has provided the occasion for this festival of the incarnation, since the end of the third century. The Christmas Crib and the Nativity Play can both be said to descend from the tableau of Christ’s birth that St Francis arranged when he celebrated Christmas at Greccio in 1223. Christmas carols are a mediaeval tradition, which has been notably developed from the end of the nineteenth century. The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is itself an influential English creation of the late nineteenth century, made widespread by the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, in the first half of the twentieth.

Traditionally, the Christmas season has been celebrated for twelve days, ending with Epiphany, which in turn ends with the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple on 2nd February. It has become a still greater challenge to celebrate the saints of the Christmas season: St Stephen (26th December), who first paid with his life for following Christ; St John (27th December), who was believed to have lived to great old age in profound meditation on the Word made flesh; and the Holy Innocents (28th December), who draw our attention to the plight of children in a world where children are still massacred.

In the run up to Christmas, hold onto Advent; to the great themes of darkness before dawn, the hidden germination of the seed in the earth and the hope for things not yet seen. Then, our Christmas celebrations will carry their full force of joy and anticipation fulfilled.

Rev Lisa Cornwell