IT’S CHRISTMAS !
By the time you read this, the Church’s season of Advent will have begun. It is a season of expectation and preparation, as the Church prepares to celebrate the coming of Christ in his incarnation. Or at least, that’s how it should be!!
The reality in our modern world is that Christmas has been commercialised and most of our preparations and expectations are focussed on buying food and presents for families and friends on Christmas Day. No matter how much we might wish it otherwise, I’m sure many of us often feel that Christ is squeezed into a corner of Christmas, somewhere between the extra shifts at work for those of us who work in the retail sector, the children’s school festivities, the arrangements to catch up with family, the dusting off of the decorations, the festive food buying and so on. Having just been given a list of services for our Benefice by my churchwardens, I also feel that this year Christmas is going to be a whole new ball game!!!
There is also another side to Christmas. Whilst the commercial world fills the shops and streets with must-have products, tinsel and lights, many in our communities struggle to afford even the most basic of necessities like food, warmth and shelter, and face a stark choice between going without or getting into debt. Single people, both old and young, can find themselves faced with the prospect of spending Christmas alone without family or friends and for some that makes this season far from the joyful occasion it should be.
So how can we put the Christ back into Christmas? How can we engage both with the world we live in today and also set time aside to focus on the ‘reason for the season’ - Jesus Christ, who came into the world to give us hope and to shine a light through the darkness of the world that will guide us to eternal life?
Personally, I find the ‘apron’ method to be a good one!!! Let me explain! Rumour has it that a certain Susanna Wesley, the mother of John Wesley (the founder of Methodism) and of his hymn-writing brother Charles, had a method of finding time alone with God despite having 19 (yes, 19!) children. When Susanna wanted to pray she would put her apron over her head wherever she was and that was a signal to her children that she was spending time alone with God and that nothing, other than a life or death situation, should interrupt her! Now just in case you are thinking that I routinely wander around blinded by my pinny, I don’t quite do that!! When life gets chaotic and I find that God is getting squeezed out by ‘stuff’, I seek out a tiny patch of space...maybe in my car, or putting the rubbish out (my kids NEVER join me there!) or even in the only room in the house with a lock on the door (you KNOW what room that is!!) and I just stop for a moment or two and ask God to help me focus on what’s important. It is amazing what God can do in a few seconds!!
A wise Priest once told me that our expectations are often met so if we expect to see Christmas overtaken by the commercial sector then that will probably be the case. If, however, we expect to encounter God right in the midst of all the busy-ness of this world then that too is exactly what will happen. So I challenge us all to find a new way to engage with Christ this Christmas, to find time alone with God and allow him to renew in us a sense of hope and expectation that goes beyond the tinsel and the turkey and illuminates a path that will allow each one of us to reflect Christ’s light into the world we live in.
Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year.
With love - Ginni
Over fifty members of our community enjoyed a wonderful Christmas Community Lunch at the Bull at Gosmore today. St Ippolyts and Gosmore Parish Council sponsored the event but the real heros were Kim and Charlie of the Bull who treated us all to a splendid lunch of Soup,Turkey with all the trimmimgs and Christmas pudding. Father Christmas even popped in to say "hello" and give everyone a present.
A big thank you to Kim and Charlie and their staff plus all the members of the parish Council who came along to help out.
Our churchwarden Michael thanked everyone for all their hard work, it certainly was an excellent Christmas Lunch.
The 2016 St ippolyts Church Crib Festival held on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th December has been another brilliant success with a steady stream of enthusiatic people wanting to see our wonderful display of nativity cribs. This year we had on display over 160 cribs from all over the world. Visitors enjoyed the splendid variety of cribs and stayed for tea and cake.
Thanks to everyone who helped over the weekend by either lending their cribs, baking cakes, stewarding, serving teas, selling raffle tickets etc etc.
All money raised goes to our church funds.
More photois in the gallery of this web site.
Looking through old documents 6 certificates have been found. These show that a St Ippolyts Choral Society won the North and East Herts Challenge Cup in a competitive music festival in 1932, 1933 and 1935. Copies of all the certificates can be seen in our gallery.
Could we have another choral society or just a group that likes singing? Interested, speak to Revd Ginni.
LIFE IN TRIPLICATE
This month has been something of a learning curve for me and one of the things I have learned is that, when you have three churches and parishes to look after, there are times when everything happens in triplicate!! I am writing this following my third Harvest Festival of the month, each of which I have thoroughly enjoyed. However if you add that to the three Care Home Services all with a Harvest theme and the many repetitions of ‘We Plough the Fields and Scatter’, the words of which I am now so familiar with that I could sing them in my sleep, you may understand why I’m glad it’s all over!! I can only imagine what Christmas in triplicate will look like!!
The Picnic on the Green at Great Wymondley and the Harvest Lunch at
St. Ippolyts were both great events and it was good to be able to chat with so many people I hadn’t had a chance to meet before. My thanks go to all of you who worked so hard to arrange and cater for these events - and clear up afterwards! Special thanks go to those at St. Ippolyts who gathered up and distributed the massive haul of harvest offerings that the school children brought in at their Harvest Festival Service. The non-perishable produce went to the local Food Bank which I know they will be grateful for, so thank you all for your generosity.
Another thing I have learned is that whilst I have come to terms with the fact that I was last in the queue when God handed out singing voices, there really is no truth in the saying ‘practise makes perfect’ as the dear residents of the local care homes will testify!!! Rosemary Stratton from Little Wymondley stoically agreed to accompany me on my visits to Wymondley, Sloe Hill and Gosmore Care Homes in the attempt to bring some harmony to my singing but I rather feel that she has bitten off more than she can chew - have a read of her article to find out more!! Our exploits in the care homes, whilst hilarious, have made me question how much longer
I can torture my parishioners before taking action so I have a cunning plan!
Can you sing? I am looking for relatively willing volunteers who would like to join an informal singing group, the more the merrier, with a view to occasionally joining me on my visits to care homes and other events which happen around the benefice. I’m not looking to ask for a heavy or even regular commitment from anyone but if we could get a group of people who love singing together from across the benefice then not only would our care home residents benefit but it would also be a great way for us all to get to know each other and have fun. Interested?.....email me!!!
With love - Ginni
On Monday 7th November, the Bishop of Bedford, will be spending the day in our deanery. In the evening there will be a celebration event from 19:30 at St Paul's Letchworth. All the churches in the deanery are invited to come along to celebrate all the good things which are happening in our deanery.
It would be great to have a good representation from our Benefice - it will be fun (honestly!), there will be decent nibbles (Rev Gonni's words) and alcohol and even more important it will make our new vicar look good if lots of people turn up!!. (do we have to waer a badge saying we are from this Benefice?). If you would like to join Revd Ginni please add your name to the list at the back of of our churches.
Our All Souls Service will be held on Sunday 30th October at 5:00p.m, in St Ippolyts Church.
It will be a candlelit service at which we will remember the names of the departed loved ones. If you would like a name or names to be offered in prayer at this special service please add them to the list which is at the back of each of our three churches.
St Ippolyts Church Nativity Crib Festival
3rd and 4th December 11-5
Aren’t Crib sets a bit boring? Come along to our Nativity Crib Festival and we’ll prove otherwise!
Every year we get more and more cribs (last year we lost count at 130) and they are all different!
Different in size from a scene carved inside a wooden egg the size of a quails egg to ones over a foot high.
Different in age from family heirlooms to the scenes made by The Beavers or Brownies.
Different in the materials they are made from, who knew you could make a Nativity set out of citrus peel?
Above all they each have a different story written on a card beside them. One wonderful story told about a set at our first festival in which the twin boys who owned the Playmobile Nativty set had found that baby Jesus fitted inside their toy cars and went zooming around the house. Another, made of newspaper told of how a poor shepherd had been nibbled by the mice.
All these sets are displayed in our lovely medieval church with as many fairy lights, baubles and tinsel as we can possibly squeeze in.
If you have been before will your favourites be there? Who knows? We certainly don’t until they arrive at the church when we set up. We do know that we will have some different sets, one of the organisers has inherited quite a few sets, another was given another one last Christmas (yes everyone knows we are a little obsessed with them). We will also have a Mystery Crib set, I received a phone call last Christmas saying that they had a crib set for us for the next festival and this was duly left on my doorstep, unfortunately my household was in considerable turmoil and no details were taken – whose it is remains a mystery!
Entry is £2.50, children are free. Tea/ coffee and delicious cakes are available.
Over 50 members of our local community enjoyed a splendid Harvest Lunch at St Ippolyts Parish Hall today.
A big thank you to all the ladies that helped prepare the food and make the event such a success. A special thankyou to Jane and Jennifer Veasey and Mary Hooper for all their hard work in arranging the lunch.
More photos can be seen in the gallery.
From The Venerable Paul Hughes – Archdeacon of Bedford
I am writing to ask if you would kindly please pass on details both to your PCC’s and other members of your congregation (through your pew sheets and magazines if possible) of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land from 16 – 25 May next year which I am leading with my wife, The Revd Canon Liz Hughes, Senior Chaplain at London Luton Airport.
As a diocese we have a huge collective experience of organising and running pilgrimages in collaboration with our Travel Agent McCabe and we sincerely believe that this programme is our best yet.
The pilgrimage will spend five nights in Jerusalem and four in Tiberias by The Sea of Galilee. We will visit many of the principal holy sites including the Mount of Olives, The Garden of Gethsemane, The Via Dolorosa, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Bethlehem, Nazareth, The Church of the Beatitudes and Tabgha (The Church of the Loaves and Fishes). The Friday in Jerusalem allows the choice of a free day in the Old City or a full day tour by coach to Masada, Qumran and the Dead Sea. A boat cruise on the Sea of Galilee is also included.
The full brochure and booking form can be viewed/downloaded at the link below.
A professional English-speaking guide will be present throughout the pilgrimage and the hotels have been carefully selected and are well known to us. Travel is by luxury air-conditioned coach.
Those travelling alone and / or for the first time are very welcome, and a supportive friendly and safe setting is assured. Parish groups are encouraged! The pilgrimage is fully ecumenical and we warmly welcome friends from all Christian denominations.
Anyone interested (without obligation) is warmly invited to an informal meeting at St Margaret’s Church Parish Centre Streatley on Saturday 8 October @10.30 am.
It would be very helpful in estimating numbers if anyone hoping to attend the above event could please email :
Full directions and a map will be sent by return.
You may also be interested in a further Diocesan pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi from 11 to 18 October next year led by Canon Dennis Stamps, Rector of Harpenden, previously Director of Ministry for the Diocese of St Albans . Details are again available on the Pilgrimages website as above.
Thank you for your kind assistance,
The Venerable Paul Hughes
Archdeacon of Bedford
As well as the usual Harvest Festival services in Church there will be a Harvest Lunch at 12:30 in the Parish Hall. To enable the catering team to make their plans beforehand, attendance will be ticket only, available now from Jane and Jennifer Veasey (Hitchin 434254), Anne Steel (Hitchin 432117) or Roger Cox (Hitchin 432445) at £5 per head, £3 for children aged 5-11 and no charge for younger lunchers.