December's letter from the vicar
The Vicarage, 11 Jasmine Close
November has been a month of remembering - all the saints and all of our loved ones who have gone before us at the beginning of the month, and those who gave their lives for our freedom on Remembrance Sunday. This year was especially poignant being the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the start of the Second World War. At Whittington we continued our commemorations with a community lunch, excellently prepared by Brenda Giles and her expert team. It was a good way to join together in a fellowship that might not have been possible had it not been for those who fought for us.
Remembering continues during the season of Advent, traditionally a season of penitence when we recall those things that are not right in our lives, so that we can enter the Christmas season renewed, forgiven and refreshed. The season will start with a candlelit Advent carol service on Sunday 30th November, 6.30pm at Whittington, for members of both churches and anyone else who would like to join us. This year it will be sung by the Grafton Consort.
There will be Christingle services on Sunday 14th December, 11.00am at Whittington, and Sunday 25th January, 4.00pm at St Mark's. The focus will be the light of Christ as it came into our lives - looking forward to the light which comes with the birth of Jesus, and celebrating that light presented to the gentiles during the Epiphany season. Christingle services are always magical occasions and it is good to see all ages worshipping together.
Both churches will hold Christmas carol services on Sunday 21st December - 4pm at Whittington and 6.30pm at St Mark's. The crib services will be held on Christmas Eve - 4pm at St Mark's and 5pm at Whittington - when we hope that many children will want to come along and take part in the tableaux. The first Communion of Christmas, 11.30pm on Christmas Eve, and Family Holy Communion, 10.00am on Christmas Day will follow at both places. I am of course most grateful to have Nick as our Assistant Curate as well as assistance from retired clergy, readers and clergy from the South East Team.
One church in our Team needs our particular prayers at the moment and that is Holy Trinity & St Matthew's, Ronkswood. Their building was knocked down on 17th November and this will clearly be a bereavement for the regular worshipping congregation and the community as a whole. abuse contacts . Please remember the Reverends George Davis and Hazel Charlton, members of the church and residents of Ronkswood in your prayers. The plan is to build a new community building with church facilities - further information to follow as soon as it is known.
I feel personally renewed for the busy seasons ahead, having been fortunate enough to be able to take a short break in the Isle of Wight during November. An Autumn break is perhaps one of the most beautiful. The trees on the drive through the New Forest were a glorious mix of yellows, reds and oranges; the ferry crossing on a stormy evening provided a sense of warmth and security; the cottage garden was full of very cuddly looking rabbits; and the sea, literally at the end of the garden, provided sometimes a glimpse of the forces of nature, and at others a calm place in which to enjoy the last of the warm sunshine. All felt very definitely right with the world.
What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare... wrote William Henry Davies. May I wish you all a productive Advent, a very happy Christmas and some time to just stare at the world.
With very best wishes, Clare