Central Church Newsletter December 2021
The Holy Season will soon be upon us and no doubt for some, the commercial side of Christmas will take precedence over the real reason why we celebrate Christmas and Christ’s birth. If we have learnt anything over these last two years it is to value those nearest and dearest to us as well as the wider community and it’s the simple things in life that are far more important. As we get ready to celebrate Christmas with our families let us take time to remember those that might be on their own or who have recently lost a loved one and extend a hand of friendship.
We would like to wish all our church family a very blessed Christmas and a new year filled with hope for a better and safer world for the whole of humanity.
Linda and Malcolm Johnson
THANK GOD FOR CHRISTMAS!
It is usual for Christian people to bemoan the commercialization of Christmas… but I’m not going to add to their voices. I think we should be profoundly grateful that Christmas still gets such an amazingly strong billing in our post-Christian society. Twenty years ago, Birmingham City Council introduced the concept of Winterval but it never caught on, and Christmas is emblazoned across our society as strongly as ever this year. Millions of people will be attending carol services over the coming month and even the most committed Scrooge will not be able to miss the fact that Christmas is being celebrated! Christianity might sit on the margins of society for the rest of the year but for these weeks the Christmas story is told and retold thousands of times – and we should rejoice!
Of course, like everyone else, I would be thrilled if everyone were to understand the true meaning of Christmas. But what I love about the way in which our society celebrates Christmas is that Jesus is right at the heart of the commercialization. If we had the ability to ban all references to Jesus, Bethlehem and the three kings from all commercial activities it would be a disaster. As it is the message of the Incarnation sits embedded amidst a cacophony of “Jingle Bells”, “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas”, and Slade’s “Merry X’mas everybody!”. As I understand it, that’s precisely what the Incarnation is all about. It is about God himself coming not to a safe, calm sanctuary full of good people, but to the hustle and bustle of normal, commercial life where he meets people who have messed up and need his help.
I do hope that Christmas is a wonderfully enjoyable time for you and your family. For many of us there will be a special poignancy about this particular Christmas, because of loved ones who have passed away this year. On the other hand, many of you have had the joy of welcoming new life into your families, and that will be a special joy for you to celebrate this Christmas. Whether our thoughts are sad or happy, Emmanuel, God with us, comes to meet with us and to offer us afresh his life and hope.
Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States, once said, “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” I pray that, amidst all the frivolity, rush and commercialization of these days, you will grasp hold afresh of the liberating, invigorating message of Christmas.
My wife, Sue, joins with me in wishing you all a very happy Christmas.
Yours ever, in Christ,
This Christmas we will be collecting money to send to Christian Aid, particularly for their work in supplying clean water to some of the many places now troubled more than ever by the effects of climate change. From Advent Sunday onwards envelopes will be distributed in church for your donations. As has been our custom in recent years, a large card will be on display so that we can write greetings to our church friends and give the money we might have spent on cards and postage to Christian Aid. If you would like to know more about the work of Christian Aid, or about on-line giving, please contact me on 01793 525852 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
This year we are collecting for the homeless and those in need. There will be a box at the front of the church each Sunday until 19 December to receive your gifts. Suggested items are:
- Male and female underwear (pants and vests – medium size)
- Socks – sports type as easily dried
- Hats and gloves
- Sugary sweets – e.g. barley sugar
- Dates in box
- Vouchers for Tesco / Co-op (as these supermarkets are in town centre)
- Packets or sachets of hot chocolate / coffee / teabags
Chris is willing to do the shopping for you if you are not able to go shopping yourself.
5th December – Revd Jonathan Edwards
12th December – Revd Jonathan Edwards – Communion
19th December – Revd Alisa Palmer (10.30 service)
19th December – Revd Jonathan Edwards (4.30 p.m Carols by Candlelight with Christingles service)
25th December – Ms Judith Furse and Mrs Christine Durant. Judith will share one of her late father’s Christmas Day reflections
26th December – no service
If you would like to help make the Christingles on Saturday 18th December at 10.30 a.m. please speak to Chris who would appreciate your help.
Following the Carol service on the 19th, we will have a ‘bring and share’ meal. We hope to see you there.
Baptist Missionary Society
As you know Van and Val Wheeler collect money for BMS via the Birthday Card scheme whereby members and friends of Central choose to give a donation when they receive their birthday card. We have received a letter of thanks from BMS which tells us how the money helps change people’s lives. Here is an extract:
Diana couldn’t walk and no-one knew why. An unknown illness left her bedridden for six months in her home in a small village in Guinea. Her family thought she wouldn’t make it but thanks to Central Church’s donation, Diana’s family were able to reach out to BMS World Mission worker, Caroline. She was able to give Diana exercises to do and help build up her strength. Amazingly Diana was able to walk again in a matter of weeks and now she runs around and plays like any other child.
People like Diana in Guinea are receiving crucial healthcare and Covid-19 vaccines are also being distributed to vulnerable people in Sri Lanka.
If you are interested in knowing more about the BMS Birthday Scheme, please speak to Van and Val.
Swindon Food Collective
In September we had a request from the Food Collective asking for toiletries and household cleaning products. Thank you to all those who responded. Chris has recently written to the Food Collective asking whether, with Christmas approaching, they wish us to start donating food again. They have answered that they welcome both food and toiletries/cleaning products.
As many of you know, there are two opportunities for donating to charity at Central Church. You can slip some money into the “hole in the wall” just outside the Worship Area or you can put money in the tin on the counter when you get your coffee after the service.
The World Church Group used to decide on the charities to be supported. However, at present this group is not viable so, it was decided at Church Meeting, that people should give their suggestions to the Executive who will make the necessary arrangements.
Please do think about which charities you would like us to support. Each charity has a four month block. The first will be Bible Society, who will get a little longer, running from December until April next year. After that, it’s up to you.
Please find attached a certificate of thanks detailing the amount of donations received from your organisation during Harvest 2021.
We very much appreciate the support and look forward to your participation again in 2022.
Stay safe and stay well.
A BIG THANK YOU TO EVERYONE AT
WHO DONATED 30.3 KGs OF FOOD
THIS WILL HELP US GREATLY, AS WE CONTINUE HELPING PEOPLE IN SWINDON AND SURROUNDING AREAS WHO ARE IN FOOD CRISIS.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR KINDNESS AND GENEROSITY.
Thought for the day – Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.
Deadline for January Newsletter Monday 27th December 2021