QUESTION: What goes from 0 to 90, often involves a wilderness, promises a royal highway, includes a brass band, twinkling candles, poetic readings and choirs of earthly angels?
ANSWER: Holy Communion service; and Carols by Candlelight at St. James’ church Stalmine on ‘Gaudete’ Sunday
(a joyous celebration on the 3rd Sunday of Advent).
Fr. Peter Walsh preached for the first time at St James’ to a congregation ranging from 0 to nearly 90 years! He received a wonderfully warm welcome as he reflected upon God who reaches out in the difficult wilderness times in life to bring us home to His love on the royal highway.
The readings centred on John the Baptist – a messenger who prepared the way for the coming of the Lord. To reflect the idea of carrying messages, the Children’s Sunday Club created some angels of their own and proudly shared them with Fr. Peter and the worshippers at the end of the service.
Fr. Peter re-joined the congregation in the evening for another special celebration.
The ‘Carols by Candlelight’ service at St. James’ is always a firm favourite in the Christmas calendar with families, friends and neighbours. Few can resist the triumphant sound of Pilling Jubilee Silver Band, playing traditional carols with a new energy. Set against a backdrop of candlelit window ledges, bedecked with seasonal foliage and lush winter berries, musical instruments large and small glittered in the ambient light.
Pam led the service, skilfully interweaving narrative poems, which recalled the age-old nativity story with complementary traditional carols and more modern duets sung by Elaine and Sara Duke.
We watched the flock, the sheep were still.
The night was calm right up until…
the sky lit up! An angel came!
It frightened us! We weren’t the same.
Near Bethlehem, we were that night,
and frightened were, at such a sight.
Then when I stilled, an angel spoke,
with message clear, for all us folk.
I bring you tidings of great joy.
In manger hay, you’ll find a boy.
In strips of cloth, in loving care,
in Bethlehem, you’ll see Him there.
Inside a stable built with board,
you’ll find your Saviour, Christ the Lord.
Then suddenly we saw the most,
a multitude of Heavenly host!
I heard, when sky turned brightest,
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth, peace…toward men.”
with echo heard again, again.
And then those words, “Don’t be afraid…”
Go see the place where He is laid.
And so the time, we didn’t waste.
We left right then. We left in haste.
When we arrived, it was as told.
It was a sight worth more than gold.
The Inn was full, but He was kept
inside a stable as He slept.
I fell to knees near humble child.
Dear Mary saw and simply smiled.
The floor was straw on dirt and dust.
I thought it odd and so unjust.
Deserved He more, much more than this,
With crown of pearls and happiness.
A Saviour good, for all to see.
A Saviour great, should one day be,
In fact, this child should be a king
that rules over everything!
It saddens though, God had to give,
His only son so I could live.
I felt much dampness on my face,
For this was now a sacred place.
Through tears of joy, they saw us pray.
We saw it all that Christmas Day.
At the end of the service, refreshments were shared…a glass of pink, white or red wine and a delicious mince pie!
Happily fortified in body and soul, all headed out into the icy evening with a contented feeling of warmth.