COULD YOU WRAP A FEW BOXES, PLEASE?
If Dorothy Vickery ever asks you to help with some gift-wrapping, then watch out – you could be in for more than you bargained for!
Dorothy again led the URC team managing Ickenham’s contribution to Operation Christmas Child. At the URC, shoe boxes were collected and beautifully wrapped. Then, one morning in October, Dorothy’s team met to fill the boxes with gifts we had been gathering in recent months – toys, sweets, pencils, puzzles, notebooks, stickers – anything fun that fits into a box!
Elsewhere in Ickenham, other groups were busy doing the same thing, and their boxes soon joined those at the URC for a service of dedication in November. Thanks to St Giles’ Church, Happy Days Pre-School, Jack and Jill Mother and Toddler Group, 4th Ickenham Guides, 1st Ickenham Brownies, 1st Ickenham Cubs, Breakspear School and other friends, a massive 178 boxes were eventually piled up at the URC.
When they were collected by the Operation Christmas Child team, to begin their journey to children in Mozambique (as Bernie explained in his October ICN article) we sent them on their way with a cheque for a further £320 towards transportation costs. A great result!
DROP-IN FOR THE BEREAVED. Third Monday of each month. St Giles’ Church Hall, 2pm to 3.30pm. A friendly, informal opportunity for a chat, over a cup of tea, with other bereaved people and pastoral visitors. The next meeting is on Monday 21st December (then Monday 18th January). Just come along, or ring the Rectory (622970) if you would like to talk to someone first.
FROM ST GILES’ CLERGY
“I hope our baby behaves and doesn’t cry” is a concern expressed by most parents preparing to have their baby baptised. On one occasion, the baby slept through the entire service, but most make their presence felt with a bawl, a whimper, a wriggle, by grabbing my radio mike, or just clinging tightly to mum or dad. Without the power of speech, babies have to resort to many different methods of communication.
I don’t subscribe to the sentiment of a well-known Christmas Carol that carries the line “the little Lord Jesus no crying he makes”! He was a fully human baby, so how else would he have let his mum know he was hungry, tired or needed his nappy changing? As we approach Christmas and hear again this most engaging story, we have to be careful not to wrap it up in too much sentimentality. It certainly has the power to evoke warm feelings, but was that the main purpose behind God entering the world in the form of a vulnerable human? Surely something more strategic was going on?
Jesus used the same route into the world as any other human, despite being the Son of God. Being fully human involved being born, being a toddler, being an adolescent, being an adult. Though we don’t know much about Jesus the adolescent, he must have passed through this stage, and I expect Mary and Joseph needed to remind him to tidy his bedroom too! God chose to reveal his godly nature while also revealing the full potential of humanity. His journey through all stages of human development, rather than arriving as a fully formed adult, reminds us that we can relate to God at all ages and stages in our own lives.
And God’s vulnerability and reliance on others at this time opened up a scenario of a new way to relate to him. Suddenly the One who designed the universe was in the arms of two inexperienced parents. Yes, God’s majesty is to be worshipped with awe and wonder, but he is also to be delighted in as the One who can be known personally.
Is this Christmas going to be just about warm fireside feelings that go when the bank holidays are over, or could this be an opportunity to draw closer to the God who, by becoming human, stepped out of eternity into the confines of our world? He didn’t do this to create an attractive story, but to attract lost humanity back to the Creator.
I wish you all a happy Christmas and God’s blessing in the New Year.
FROM THE URC MINISTER
Can we celebrate Christmas in times of cutbacks and economic stringency? Yes we can. Think of what is the essential heart of the Christmas celebration and focus on that.
When my wife and I had our first Christmas living amongst people who had originally heard of Christmas only a few years previously, we were two and a half hours’ drive or eight hours’ walk from the nearest small supermarket. We had to think, “Now, what is the essence of Christmas?”
The birth of Jesus is what we are celebrating, and the reason for celebrating is that he was born to show us God and to enable us to live in closer relationship with God and with each other. So retelling the story of his birth, praising God and celebrating this together are the essentials.
In that remote situation we were able to do that in three ways that come to mind now. One was a dramatic presentation of the nativity story. Another was using big model cut-outs of the main characters. Then the story was set to music, with some imported carols translated, some freshly composed in the people’s own style of singing.
Each country, each culture, has added decorations and meals, presents and other traditions to the basic celebration, and these have their meanings and value, but when resources are limited, or you are starting again in a new situation, it can be refreshing to focus on the heart of the matter, and enjoy what you can together.
Let us share the blessings of God with us (in the world for all people) this Christmas.
Maranatha, mentioned in 1st Corinthians, meaning “Come Quickly, Lord”, is also the name of the Christian Bookshop at 22 Windsor Street in Uxbridge. Geoff and Jan, pictured, who met as Brunel University students, started the shop 33 years ago and it now attracts a wide range of customers, including members of both our churches.
Apart from Bibles and other books, Maranatha stocks cards, crafts, pictures and music – the latter in the form of CDs and DVDs. Their top five best-selling items are always discounted by 15% and these currently include the books “The Shack” and “Purpose Driven Life”. The shop is spacious, warm and friendly – just the place to go for that extra present!
FROM THE CHURCHES’ REGISTERS
Baptisms at St Giles’
Oct 25th Elise Summer Richards
Caleb Anthony Wright
Nov 8th Dolly Dais Parker
Cremations at Breakspear Crematorium
Oct 15th Albert Moss, aged 97
Nov 11th Audrey Sharpe, aged 87 (followed by a service in St Giles’)
Nov 13th John Serby, aged 79 (followed by a service in St Giles’)
Nov 13th Dorothy Atkinson, aged 87
ST GILES’ CHURCH STREET PRAYER LIST
Each Sunday at St Giles’ Church we pray for all the people who live or work in a particular road in the Parish. During December and January we will pray for the following roads:
Dec 6th Crosier Road
Dec 13th Derwent Avenue
Dec 20th Edinburgh Close
Dec 27th Edinburgh Drive
Jan 3rd Eleanor Grove
Jan 10th Elgar Close
Jan 17th Enstone Road
Jan 24th Farm Close
Jan 31st Field Close
If you live in one of these roads why not join us at our 8am or 9.45am services? You will be most welcome.