Silence and Singing
I remember it like it was yesterday… Christmas Eve 1993 in Leicester Cathedral. The lights are low, the Cathedral is packed and the congregation wait silently and expectantly. A single note cuts into the silence, I step forward and, with my heart pounding, begin to sing the line I’d waited years to sing… ‘Once in Royal David’s City…’
That’s right – hard to believe now – but I was once an angelic looking Chorister at Leicester Cathedral – and had the terrifying privilege of opening the Christmas Eve Carol Service with that iconic solo. In that moment it was both the silence and the singing that made the experience so memorable and atmospheric.
The Christmas story contains both silence and singing. Zechariah could not speak after hearing from the Angel but then burst into praise when John was born. Mary too responded with praise but then also pondered and treasured all that was going on. I imagine it was pretty quiet on the Shepherd’s hill and then the Angels arrived in full voice. The long journeys of the Magi and of Mary and Joseph would – like most journeys – have been a combination of conversation and silent thought.
Our celebration of Christmas this year can – and should – involve both singing and silence. I hope our mix of Online and In Church services will help us to do this. It is disappointing that we won’t be singing together in a full church – but our Online services will give you an opportunity to raise your own roof as you worship God and belt out the classics at home. If you’re not online then you can always sing along with the various televised national services.
We won’t be able to have our usual range of Christmas services in church and gatherings this year will be small and subject to restrictions. But St John’s will still be open at various times – giving an opportunity for some reflection and stillness. I suggest that you make full use of the space to take some time out and come and be still as you ponder – just as Mary did.
So – whether you come to church or worship at home – or doamixtureofthetwo-Ipray that you’ll know God’s light and his peace this Christmas. Jesus is Emmanuel – ‘God with us’ – wherever and however we choose to worship.
6pm Online: Carol Service. A traditional mix of readings and carols. Go to www.youtube.com and search ‘St Johns Church Weymouth’
11.30pm In Church. Midnight Communion.
9am In Church: Short and traditional Christmas Day worship.
10.30am Online: Christmas Celebration. For all ages with carols, festive fun and lots of familiar faces.
Please note: the 9am Sunday Service in Church will resume on Sun 3rd Jan 2021
First Parish Wide Youth Service in St John’s
Just before Lockdown 2.0 we managed to squeeze in our first Parish-wide Youth Service. A wet and windy Sunday evening didn’t dampen spirits for the socially distanced service, with praise and worship aplenty. Fingers crossed that we are able to do our next monthly service at the beginning of December!
Elliot and Jos Bailey
Weymouth Foodbank has now set up as a Charity in its own right. With the increase in demand, volume and donations in the COVID period together with new pop up foodbanks it was time to become independent with sole responsibility for finances, administration and most importantly collection and distribution of food.
The premises for storage purposes at Weymouth Baptist Church was too small and a large warehouse facility at Albany Road on the Granby Estate was offered at very favourable terms.
The Hub for Foodbank opened on 24th November. All the bulk food will be stored there now and volunteers from the three satellites will collect their food requirements from The Hub to take back to their own churches to bag up for the clients.
The Hub, at 20-22 Albany Road, Granby Estate will be open to drop off donations on Tuesday and Friday mornings between 10.30 and 12.30. We hope this will be so much easier for people who are able to donate as there is ample free parking at the front of the building. Again, any donations will be very gratefully received as we are now feeding more needy people in Weymouth. All our clients will continue to go to the three churches – Weymouth Baptist Church, Westham Methodist Church and St Francis C of E.
Praise and thank the Lord for:-
the Lord’s abundant gifts to us to give to others
the provision of a large warehouse where our volunteers can be safely socially distanced from each other
a volunteer who has stepped up to be our warehouse supervisor
amazing teams of volunteers at different locations
the way the Foodbank’s plans have come together
that this huge change will go smoothly
that we can truly bless the needy in our town
for good working relationships between all the volunteers from different churches
for sufficient volunteers and for their safety
for great conversations with our clients
Tony and Diane Blackwell are still collecting for Food Bank. There is a box in the church for donations or you can drop them off at their home, Tyneham, Littlemoor Road, DT3 5PA (beware of satnav instructions as they can’t find the address!). Any donations will be very gratefully received.
Natures Gifts by AMF
As we were unable to raise awareness of and raise funds for DABS in our usual ways this year, we have decided to sell items of unique handmade silver and copper jewellery, recycled Christmas cards and cards made from Alison’s photographs.
A minimum of 10% of all sales go directly to support local adults affected by bullying. We hope to raise enough to pay for the cost of running the www.dabsonline.org website for another year.
Malcolm built a garden studio earlier in the year which was commandeered as a therapy room from June to September allowing Alison to work with vulnerable clients at a greater social distance. It is now being used for its original purpose as an arts/crafts workshop and group room.
Natures Gifts by AMF is our joint business through which we sell our various creative products.
If you are looking for a special gift or cards please get in touch. Tel: 07714762012 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can arrange COVID 19 secure collection from our home in Preston or we can arrange local drop off.
The pendants cost between £20-£60 without a chain. We have 18-inch 1.2mm sterling silver snake chains, available in stock at an additional cost. Cards are £1 each or 6 for £5.
Despite the challenges of 2020, we are grateful for the times of worship, fellowship and many blessings we have been able to share throughout the year. However, we are saddened not to have seen so many of our Church family in person and want you to know, you are in our thoughts and prayers.
Until we can meet in person again, we wish you a blessed advent, Christmas and 2021.
With our love
Malcolm and Alison Fox xx
Just as we were hoping to reopen Pot Luck for invited guests, the second lockdown was imposed!
We realise that as well as cooking, folk equally relish the company that Friday Pot Luck offers. And so the team decided to meet in pairs, cook and deliver meals to members of our community who are isolated or alone.
Week 1 we cooked and delivered to 10 friends. Last Friday that number rose to 16 with hot and tasty meals delivered in time for lunch.
So if you would enjoy a hot meal and a doorstep chat, or you know of anyone who might appreciate a Pot Luck meal then please contact one of the team. Meals are vegetarian, healthy and include a copy of the recipe.
The team would like to thank you all for your love and prayers as we seek to offer and expand this service.
Shirley Evans Jones
Anne & Mark Foxall
Latest news from David and Shelley Stokes
For David and Shelley Stokes, our Church Mission Partners, their final year in Argentina has been turned upside down by Covid 19. It is still not clear whether it will be possible to visit communities to say their goodbyes before they leave, possibly in late January or early February.
In their newsletter they wrote, “The passage that has often come to mind is John 12:24 – ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.’ It may well be that the present pattern of selection and training of new leaders needs to fall to the ground, so that a new pattern, more attuned to Wichi and Toba cultural understandings, can come to birth. We need much wisdom to know how to give our backing to those who will take the lead in this renewal process.” David and Shelley ask for prayers for:-
the Lord to bring about new patterns of selection and training of leaders for the indigenous churches here.
the opportunities to say goodbyes and end our time here well.
This is an extract from a letter from Tear Fund which was sent to Ruth Clinch, our Tearfund Representative.
“Thank you for your Church’s offering of £454.40 this Harvest. Your congregation is helping transform lives across the world in Jesus’ name, bringing hope to people like Yandang.
Yandang is a farmer. He and his wife live in Chad with their 7 children. Yandang remembers a time when the rain was plentiful and his harvests were abundant, but years of poor farming practices made the soil less fertile.
Thanks to the support of people like you, Yandang’s Church (a Tearfund Partner) was equipped to provide him with new and vital information.
Yandang is now providing for his family, protecting the environment and has earned the respect of his community.
Your church’s support make life changing work like this possible.”
(The money sent to Tearfund was given at our outdoor Harvest service in October)
A Little Light Relief sent by Christine Clay
These genuine bulletins appeared in church notices or were read out at the start of services. They made me laugh.
- The Fasting and Prayer Conference includes meals.
- The sermon this morning: Jesus Walks on the Water.
- The sermon tonight: Searching for Jesus.
- Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
- For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
- Next Thursday there will be try outs for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
- At the evening service tonight, the topic will be, “What is Hell?” Come early and listen to our choir practice.
- Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
- The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious
- Pot luck supper Sunday at 5.00 PM – prayer and medication to follow.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE
Captivating, completely creative
Reveals, Releases, Reveres, Restores and Rejoices as
Taking, turning around
Afflictions, Ailments and Attitudes
Sovereignly saved each one of us. That’s me, that’s you.
Just when I think it’s beyond all hope, He
Ends my guilt and failure
Salvation solves the salvaging task with
Unending love of the
Candles lit! The lounge is a mess
Homely gifts on the table
Royal robes on a peg in the hall
In a home where we’re totally able- but wait!
Saving each soul that’s open to ask and T
hankfully dancing with Jesus
Making some space for His spirit to sing…
Shining; a Happy Christmas. (Pass me those robes!)
Christ was born
Here on earth
Reaching out to us
In our lives
So close to us
The Lord be with YOU this Christmas time
May Jesus be your friend
Always with you
Sing out for joy this Christmas time
Saviour of the world
Central to every thought, word and deed;
Heaven comes to earth in Jesus.
Reaching and restoring my every need.
In the stable manger He is found, adored with animals all around.
Star of David, rests over Bethlehem, with its heavenly promise so profound.
The shepherds rejoice; chosen to celebrate His Birth.
Majesty in its simplest form,
A sense of peace settling me down; our
Saviour is born.
Christ should be at the centre of our lives
He is to be worshipped and adored
Righteous we are because of Jesus
Interceding for us every day
Saviour – thank you for dying on the cross
To make us holy in God’s sight
May we learn and grow spiritually
Adam – the second one, put us right with God
So, let Christmas be extra special this year regardless of circumstances, as we focus on God, the eternal giver.
Alpha and Omega
(Bev Haggett sent one of her favourite poems. It seems very appropriate at this time)
ONLY IN PASSING
Life is a mixture of sunshine and shadow,
But you will find there is more joy than pain.
Clouds veil the brightness,
but only in passing,
Storms roll away and the heart sings again.
You can’t see the end of what troubles you now,
But nothing is permanent.
Someday, somehow – that too will pass like the cloud overhead. That too will go, and the thing that you dread – will break up like mist And will vanish from sight.
Those difficult problems are all coming right.
Hold to your faith.
Never waver or doubt – and sooner or later the sun will come out.
(This is a poem sent by Sue Sherif, daughter of Pat and Roy Worrall)
Christmas is cancelled? You’re having me on! Because of a virus? That’s got to be wrong!
So what will be missing
On the happy day
The loving? The caring? Surely they’ll be there anyway.
The food and the feasting,
The cup of good cheer? For most of us at least There’s always next year.
No gathering of families
As everyone comes home?
For some that’s quite normal
They spend each Christmas alone.
Every year some folk are homeless,
And some feel so sad. For some it’s a reminder Of all they once had.
6 This year they say
Money might be quite tight.
Are we worried about presents? Surely that can’t be right.
What makes Christmas tough
Is grief, loss and sadness. Not missing out for once
On shopping frenzy madness.
The virus can do one!
Christmas cancelled? No fear. It’s the coming of Jesus…
And don’t worry, He’s here!
The other day Anne Boyd and I were discussing the current restrictions and how difficult people were going to find preparations for Christmas. I told her that I welcomed a less commercial approach and shared with her how we used to spend Christmas in Africa. Anne suggested I should write an item for Jottings. Here it is.
n the 60s and 70s, I worked as a missionary nurse in North Eastern Nigeria. We had a leprosy hospital and many clinics and were helping Nigerian Christians reach out to the unreached. Medicine is the Handmaid of the Gospel. It was very much a desert landscape, hardly any rainfall, no supermarkets, no Amazon. But we always kept Christmas.
We painted branches of thorn bushes; decorated them with ribbons and whatever we could find. We bought sweets in the market and gave them to the children. We had a traditional roast with guinea fowl, leg of goat and home-made Christmas pudding.
We sang carols; the children acted the Nativity in the little church and we all praised our God together with Great Joy.
On Boxing Night, we sat outside on the sand under the stars and usually moonlight and listened to Handel’s Messiah on L.Ps.
It was wonderful!
GOD WITH US
How well do you know titles of Christmas Carols? from Anne Bond
4. O-C-A-Y-F 5. O-L-T-O-B
7. W-S-W 8. T-F-N 9. J-B
13. D-D-M-O-H 14. H-T-H-A-S
Christmas Carols Number Puzzle
What is the total when you add up the numbers from each of these questions?
1. How many times is Christ the Babe mentioned in Infant Holy, Infant Lowly?
2. How many times is the word Love mentioned in Love Came Down at Christmas?
3. How many times is News mentioned in On Christmas Night all Christians Sing?
4. How many capital H’s in Once in Royal David’s City?
5. How many gifts did the kings bring in We Three Kings of Orient are? Answers on the last page
Biblical Christmas Word Search
1. Angel who told Mary that she’d have a Son 3. “The holy one to be born will be called the __ __ __.”
5. Old Testament prophet who said a ruler over Israel would be born in Bethlehem.
6. Where Joseph and Mary went to register for census
7. “Glory to God in the ___”
8. Governor of Syria when census was taken 10. Occupation of Elizabeth’s husband
15. Wise men from the east
16. The angel told Mary she had found ___ with God.
19. Town in which Mary was living before the birth
23. The king of Judea at the time of Christ’s birth
24. Name of the Caesar who called for a cen- sus
25. What Mary and Joseph offered at the Tem- ple
27. The Wise Men brought gold, incense and ___ to Jesus.
28. Elizabeth’s husband
2. An angel told Joseph to flee to this country to keep the Baby safe
3. Devout man who waited at the Temple to see the Christ
4. God warned the Wise Men in a __ to take a different route home.
5. Where Mary laid Jesus after wrapping him in cloths
9. What led the Wise Men from the east to Je- sus
11. They were tending flocks when an angel told them of Christ’s birth
12. Number of days after his birth when Jesus was presented at the Temple
13. “He will be great…and he will reign over the house of __ forever…”
14. Name of Elizabeth’s baby
17. Name for Jesus that means, “God with us.” 18. Jesus would be given the throne of this father
20. Mary’s relative who was also expecting a child
21. Elizabeth was filled with the __ __ when Mary visited her.
22. Name that was to be given to Mary’s son 26. Prophetess at the Temple who gave thanks for the Child
1. Away in a manger
2. Good King Wenceslas
3. I saw three ships
4. O come all ye Faithful
5. O Little town of Bethlehem
6. Silent night
7. While shepherds watch
8. The first Nowell
9. Jingle Bells
10. The Virgin Mary had a baby boy 13. Ding Dong merrily on high
11. Once in Royal David’s City 14. Hark the Herald Angels sing
12. In the bleak midwinter 15 We wish you a merry Christmas
Christmas Carols Number Puzzle Answer – 45
We wish all our readers a Happy Christmas and a healthy New Year
Anne, Linda and Michael