It is December and we dare to say the word ‘Christmas’. The shops have been straining at the leash and now it is all they can think of. You can’t blame them, according to the Bank of England, a typical household in the UK spends over £500 extra in December. Spending on alcohol increases by 39%, and music and DVDs by 116% – hence all those Christmas films and Christmas compilation CDs, and full bottle banks come January. Churches too enjoy their busiest time at Christmas. All of a sudden pews that have been resting all year are needed to carry the weight of expectation of carols and readings well known and well loved. I have a mischievous thought that one day I will find someone who thinks that the Bible only contains stories of a baby’s birth and doesn’t know what happened after he grew up!
It was suggested to me recently that we should change one of our popular carol services for something more exciting. I am afraid I wasn’t convinced, not that excitement in church is wrong, or shouldn’t be encouraged, it’s just that to me the essence of Christmas is simplicity. The magic isn’t in the entertainment, the amusing sermon, or the ingenious craft activity. It is in the simple story simply told of a baby, born against the odds, surviving against the odds, who grew up to transform the world.
The story may be complete now, the baby born and his mission accomplished, but the transformation isn’t. While children go hungry and the sick go unhealed there is still work to be done; while people can’t forgive and violence plagues our cities, there is still work to be done; while people live on our streets and mental illness is left untreated, there is still work to be done. I could go on and on.
But the outrage we feel at these things, our desire for them not to be so, is a sign that the simple story of Jesus’ birth, his life and his teaching, still has power to inspire and transform. If some of that £500 spent at Christmas is directed to those who cannot return the gift, the homeless for example, then that would surely honour him most.
The Itchen Folk Band will be performing a selection of seasonal songs and readings alongside local children and readers on Friday 13th December at All Saints’ Church, Compton Street, Compton. The concert will begin at 7 pm.
Entry is free and mince pies, mulled wine and soft drinks will be served during the interval. However, the evening will be raising money for Christian Aid which helps support people in need across the world.
Parking will be available at the adjacent school and church field.
This promises to be a memorable evening and everyone is welcome to come and join us.
There will be no meeting in December. The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 8th January 2020.
The popular St. Matthew’s quiz night will be held this Saturday, 30th November, at 7 pm for a 7. pm start. Tickets are £10 and include either a fish or sausage and chip supper. To book a place or for more details, please contact email@example.com.
Don’t forget that this Saturday St. Matthew’s will be holding the annual Christmas Fair between 12 noon – 3 pm at Otterbourne Village Hall.
Come along and join in the fun. There will be lots to see and do!
The Bishop of Winchester is hosting the Churches Together electoral hustings on Thursday 5th December at The United Reform Church, Jewry Street. Doors will open at 6.30 pm with proceedings beginning at 7.30 pm. Numbers attending will be strictly limited to 300.
If you are interested in attending this event, please use the following link for more information: https://ctwin.org.uk/2019/11/15/churches-together-to-host-election-hustings/
Additionally, each year, Churches Together, at the invitation of the Bishop, organises the Real Christmas Chalet at the ever-popular Winchester Christmas Market.
This year, we are asking people simply to rest for a moment. Put away the cares of the week, stop and sit down. Rest – it’s God’s gift to them.
We are looking for willing volunteers to help for as little as two hours – and every invitation, every welcoming smile you give will have a tremendous impact on the shoppers around you. More details can be found at: https://ctwin.org.uk/2019/09/13/share-gift-from-god-at-this-years-winchester-christmas-market/
The next breakfast cafe will be held on Saturday 23rd November from 9 am until 12 noon in All Saints’ Church, Hursley.
Come along for breakfast or just join us for a coffee. Everyone will receive a warm welcome.
Also, don’t forget the Newcomers Lunch being held on the same day in Hursley Village Hall from 12.30 pm for 1 pm. See the note on the next page for further details.
The Christmas Fair is being held on Saturday 30th November from 12 noon until 3 pm in Otterbourne Village Hall.
If you would like to donate items for the Christmas hamper or would be happy to bake a cake for the refreshments, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, come along and join in the fun.
There will also be a Quiz Night on the same day in the Village Hall, 7 pm for 7.30 pm start. Tickets are £10 each and will include either a fish and chip or sausage and chips supper. Should you wish to join in or form a team, please contact us using the email above.
The next lunch will be held on Saturday 9th November at 12.30 pm at Reeves Scout Hall, Compton. If you would like to join us, just come along or contact The Rector for details.
The Parish of Compton will hold their annual Parish supper on Wednesday 20th November at South Winchester Golf Club. If you would like to reserve a place, please either reply to your invitation or contact email@example.com no later than 6th November. The cost of the meal will be £20.