Yesterday was for us, like so many churches up and down the UK, the Sunday School nativity and the Carol Service. And it was a great day.
The Sunday School service had a repeated refrain 'there's something special going on' and there certainly was. Although quite a lot of our folk were already away on overseas jaunts (the down side of being so multi-national) the place was pretty full and a fair smattering of visitors/rellies to fill the gaps. The age of our children means that we have adults joining in with them and there's something kind of fitting about a Canadian hermeneutics lecturer acting the part of head shepherd or an African MBA as one of the magi! We were guided through some of the many things that make the holidays special by a little angel who eventually found her way to Bethlehem and the stable. The familiar tear-jerker of young voices singing 'Away in a Manger' crowned the action. As our response we were invited to write our names on cut out 'baubles' and hang them on the Christmas tree and it was quite special to see young and old, regular and visitor responding. There certainly was, and more significantly is, something special going on in our church.
And so to the evening when, after several flurries of snow during the afternoon, we gathered at the C of S down the road for our shared carol service. In this we had sought quite deliberately to involve people from 'user groups' of the three fellowships involved as well as celebrating the diversity of our own folk. There was so much that was special, but among the highlights were these...
- a primary school choir from east Glasgow singing in Latin
- a Bible reading using a voice simulator (a la Stephen Hawking) by a member of the Guide unit for girls with severe disabilities
- Bahamian and Zimbabwean readers, rich in emphasis
- the blending of adult and children's choirs
- the cooperation of organist and pianist (how often does that really happen?)
There was a sense of unity, that geography, education, language, physicality were unimportant as this group gathered to 'Prepare to Celebrate.' As we dispersed, some back to the less affluent East End, some to pack to travel thousands of miles, some to resume the relentless march to 25th December, there was a sense that this had been a special moment and that we were just a little more ready for the coming of Immanuel.