Advent, Christmas Day: A Christmas Prayer

Loving Father,
Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift
and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing
which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning
make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds
with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven,
for Jesus’ sake.
Amen.

A Christmas Prayer, Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

This post, shared by Margaret, is the last in our online “Advent calendar”. Merry Christmas! You can see all the posts here.

Advent, Day 24: Northern Light

Icelanders celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, as my family does. At this time of year, the darkness of the far north is at its peak. In some fjords in the west of the country, the sun barely manages to rise above the mountains before darkness descends again.

Many years ago I recorded Bernaður Guðmundsson, the pastor of the church at Skáholt. He remembers a childhood memory told to him by his grandfather, about the preciousness of light on Christmas Eve.

This post from Anna is part of our online “Advent calendar”, taking us through to Christmas. You can see all the posts here.

Advent, Day 23: Still the Night

I find Christmas a very nostalgic time – there are things that stand out in the memory, like wending your way home through gently falling snow after a Christmas Watchnight service with a lovely warm feeling inside – or the annual re and re-reading as a child of Enid Blyton’s Christmas Book, with its wonderful explanation of Yuletide customs and traditions, all within the context of a family life which read then as something cosy and predictable, but not, somehow, ‘twee’! 

The time I cooked the turkey upside down by mistake, which made the breast beautifully moist.  The excitement of the biennial trip to the cousins for Christmas Dinner. Coming home from the midnight service to start mixing the Christmas pudding, then having it steaming gently all the way through to dinner time to make up for it’s not having been made weeks before.  Flickering firelight. 

Close your eyes and just remember – as you listen to ‘Still the night, holy the night’.

This post from Maureen is part of our online “Advent calendar”, taking us through to Christmas. You can see all the posts here.

Advent, Day 22: Cathures Choir

As one of our hall user groups, Cathures are one of the highlights of our Christingle Service every year, and thankfully this year was no exception as they managed to create this wonderful performance for us while staying suitably socially distanced!

I’m sure anyone who has tried to sing along as part of a Zoom meeting will know that this must have taken a huge amount of work to record and put together, and it sounds beautiful.

This post is part of our online “Advent calendar”, taking us through to Christmas. You can see all the posts here.

Advent, Day 20: The Mackintosh Choir

KH choir stalwart Mary is also a member of the Mackintosh choir, who have been preparing for their Christmas concert with a difference – this year it will go live on Youtube, tonight, Sunday 20th December at 7pm and is available to view online afterwards as well.

Normally a collection to support The Lodging House Mission is made at the concert, and this year is no different – you can make a donation here.

This post, by Mary, is part of our online “Advent calendar”, taking us through to Christmas. You can see all the posts here.

Advent, Day 19: The Starring Role

Today we celebrate the new mothers who over the years have cheerfully passed their precious bundles into the enthusiastic – and careful! – arms of young Marys (or Josephs, if Mary is particularly young) for our annual Nativity performance.

There has been a proud tradition for many years of asking the parents of the last baby born to a member of the congregation (or known to them!) to take this starring role, and several members of Young Church will have no memory of taking centre stage during ‘Away in a Manger’.

However, I’m sure you will agree that the shepherds, angels, inn keepers, and animals are all stars as well.

This post is part of our online “Advent calendar”, taking us through to Christmas. You can see all the posts here.

Advent, Day 18: In Dulce Jubilo

Kings College Choir, Cambridge

For me the musical highlight of Christmas over the years, is not a piece, but the annual broadcast of the service of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College Cambridge on Christmas Eve.

The sound of that choir and organ in that magnificent acoustic is second to none, and one of the carols they traditionally sing is “In dulci jubilo”, a verse of which I shall play on the 19th, followed by the Bach Prelude BWV 729 on “In dulci jubilo”. Again,this is always traditionally played at the end of the service.

Alan, our church organist will be playing for us during an hour of music and readings to celebrate Advent and Christmas tomorrow, Saturday 19th December from 2pm-3pm in the church.

This post, by Alan, is part of our online “Advent calendar”, taking us through to Christmas. You can see all the posts here.

Advent, Day 17: The Origin of the Candlelight Carol Service

Belmont Church, in Great George Street, was my family church till we united with Hillhead in late 1950. A very fine building which is much ignored, though Laurel Bank School occupied it for a while and looked after it well. In 1914 the suffragettes tried to blow it up, but happily failed!

The minister Alfred Reid, who became first minister of the united congregation, and was our present Treasurer’s father-in-law, wanted during WW2 to have an evening service near Christmas, and of course this was strictly against blackout regulations. However, the windows of the Belmont building are narrow, and a sympathetic ARP  man told him things would be OK if he left off the church lights and used candles.

So a matter of pure pragmatic intent developed into a liturgical tradition, as so often happens. It carried on in Belmont till its closure and continued in our present building thereafter! So far as I know Hillhead district was not razed to the ground as a result.

This post by Ainslie McIntyre, is part of our online “Advent calendar”, taking us through to Christmas. You can see all the posts here.

Advent, Day 16: Advent Credo

It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss—
This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life;

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction —
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever —
This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world —
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers —
This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice, of human dignity of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history —
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ — the life of the world.

From Walking on Thorns, by Allan Boesak, Eerdmans, 1984.

This post from Irene is part of our online “Advent calendar”, taking us through to Christmas. You can see all the posts here.