Happy New Year!
No, I haven't gone mad and forgotten Christmas - how could I?!
But I thought this month I would begin by reminding us all that
the Church's New Year begins with Advent Sunday - which this
year is on 29`h November. That's when our readings change, as
'Year C' begins.
Ever since Advent 2008 - before I even arrived in Pattingham
- we have been hearing the Gospel mainly from the version we
attribute to Mark. Scholars have associated Mark with being a
close associate of St Peter, the foremost among the first Disciples
But on Advent Sunday we will switch to the Gospel of Luke - and
remain with that version for most of the next 12 months - with
additions at times from John's Gospel, whose more poetic language
is always good at the major festivals - Christmas, Easter, etc.
Luke is known as an associate of St Paul, of course, and was
a gentile and it is thought a physician - so there are lots of
stories about Jesus' ministry of healing. Luke also seems to
have appreciated the part that women played in Jesus' ministry
and among his followers - so there are more stories where women
play a noticeable part - but this may just be because he wants
to emphasise that the Good News is for all people, regardless
of status - even for `foreigners' like himself; even for women.
But at Christmas we will, I am sure, hear parts of the favourite
story of the Nativity of Jesus Christ drawn from both the versions
we have in the bible. So Luke gives us Mary's great, song of
freedom, the Magnificat and the Shepherds while Matthew gives
us a fuller account of Joseph's part in the story, and the Wise
Men... how can we choose which is most important to our remembering
I am looking forward to sharing with you all in the Advent and
Christmas Festivities for the first time. This year we will journey
once again (not to Bethlehem - well not literally!) but to Patshull
on the afternoon of Sunday 13"' December for an informal
festival of carols and readings - with refreshments to follow
at the Hall - a real treat. Then the following Sunday evening,
the 20th December, will see the traditional '9 lessons and Carols'
here in Pattingham. And I understand the Christingle Service
on Christmas Eve is generally 'standing room only'- thanks to
Chrissie Ringrose for organising this again this year.
If anyone wants to help those less fortunate during the festive
season, then I am reliably informed that Steve Jones would be
delighted to take any gifts of toiletries, good toys and non-perishable
foodstuffs for the projects supported by 'P3'. Based in the Midlands
but with a national reach, P3 has been offering supported housing,
mental health services, link worker schemes, outreach, prison
in-reach and a variety of youth services for over 25 years. P3
now work with over 2000 people a week experiencing a variety
of social exclusion needs. Please bring your gifts to church
during the first half of December as usual.
I wish you all a very Happy Christmas (and a healthy and prosperous