A Carol Service with a Difference @ Church House

As a moderator of General Assembly and a staff secretary I find myself living in an “in-between world” as I carry out my different roles, with an awareness of both the joys and challenges of treading this space. The generosity, prayers, creativity, support, wisdom and understanding of colleagues have been a source of constant inspiration and encouragement. One example of the latter was the way colleagues organised and delivered our recently held Annual Carol Service and end of year gathering (December 13, 2012) for all who work at Church House.

In a filled room at Lumen United Reformed Church we participated in an advent Carol service that was creative, brought an exciting and fresh re-reading of the Nativity narratives, and got us singing familiar carols to new lyrics, as well as unfamiliar ones. The team of colleagues who crafted the liturgy, with help from the ALTERnativity website, did an excellent job!

I especially warmed to the “Family Tree” reflections shaped around a hymn written by John Campbell, and interspersed with readings and a specially written drama script by Fiona Thomas. Top acting by David Tatem (as Matthew trying to write up the genealogical line of Jesus) and Kay Parris (his wife who had to constantly remind him of all the marginal and uncomfortable characters he was keen to leave out of the family tree) made the reflections come alive. Appropriate music and singing by the Church House choir (with the Operatic voices of Judy, Mary and Helen) under the direction of Mandy Adams and Robert Wadey added to make this a Carol Service with a difference. Then there was the poetic reading of a brilliant piece by Graham Adams on the Christmas story. I can still hear the echoes of one of the stanzas, timely as it will always be:

“For it’s a story bursting with danger/ if ears to hear would listen with care/ that God-with-us is also beyond us/ re-shaping all of life – if we dare.”

And to underscore what we are really about as a Church and as a team of dedicated staff who strive to always give of their very best, often working with limited resources, we were each given “star shaped post-it notes” to record something of our heart’s desire that we hope for which we then placed (or posted) on the walls around us, literally surrounding ourselves with our hopes! This was a moving experience and I had no need to read what was written. I could feel the hope and generosity flowing in the room. The United Reformed Church is truly blessed with gifted and dedicated servants who are daring to live out the Christmas story, to ‘embrace the contents of the manger’.

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