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.

Advent, Day 15: Christingle

Making a Christingle:

You need: an orange (or tangerine), enough red ribbon to wrap around the orange, small sweets or raisins on cocktail sticks, a small candle to stick into the top of your orange.

  • The orange represents the world
  • The red ribbon (or tape) symbolises the love and blood of Christ
  • The sweets and dried fruit represent all of God’s creations
  • The lit candle represents Jesus’s light in the world, bringing hope to people living in darkness.

We are celebrating with our annual Christingle Service tomorrow evening, 16th December, at 6pm. This year we’re meeting online via Zoom, so contact Helen if you would like the details to join.

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

Advent, Day 14: The Colour of Advent

The colour associated with Advent is purple, reminiscent of royalty as befits the coming of a King.

Its second meaning is suffering, and also prayer, penitence and sacrifice. In this the purple colour of Advent foreshadows Jesus’ death on the cross.

At the start of Advent, the purple fall is put up on the pulpit. I think it is possibly my favourite, as it is so typical of my Mother’s embroidery style, and the one which she had free range as to the design.

The silver kid was cut in her favourite calligraphy style and the embellishments with silver, gold and purple beads with gold & silver couched threads. This fine swirly detail is not often seen by everyone, so I’ve added a close up. I always enjoy seeing this appear each year.

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

Advent, Day 13: The Angel

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Luke 1:30-33
The Archangel Gabriel, circa 1983

The Archangel Gabriel practiced his lines diligently on a small rural bus on the way home from nursery, announcing that a Child will be born.

The rumour of his mother’s hypothesised condition was spread all round the countryside, but on the day he performed beautifully!

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

Advent, Day 12: The Three Kings

The Three Kings by Peter Cornelius, performed by the choir of King’s College, Cambridge in 2014

Have I a favourite carol? Well, there is a plethora of well-loved ones, but I have a soft spot for “Three Kings from Persian lands afar”, set by Peter Cornelius. It is a unison item and can be sung as such by any choir, but often it is done as a solo for baritone with organ. Stewart Macrae’s rendering of it were memorable, and since his departure (he is still in St Mary’s Haddington) it has been entrusted to me. So I guess I’m biased!

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

Advent, Day 11: Glasgow Women’s Aid

Glasgow Women‘s Aid have been supporting women, children and young people who are experiencing Domestic Abuse for over 35 years.

For the last few years we have collected gifts for women and children in need on behalf of GWA as part of our annual Christmas Gift Service.

The Gift Service can’t happen this year, but you can still help Glasgow Women’s Aid to give the vital gift of support to those experiencing higher levels of domestic abuse during the festive period, and especially with ongoing COVID-19 concerns and restrictions. Please support their Lockdown Christmas Appeal.

Advent, Day 10: A South African Christmas Song

Concord Nkabinde – Sizalelwe Indodana

I have been back and forth to South Africa on business many times in the past five years. In travelling all over the country, from the wild Indian ocean on the Cape to the endless veldt in the Free State, I’ve grown to love the landscape and its people, many of whom have a deep and very personal faith.

There is also a strong choral tradition in South Africa, particularly in the townships, where sung close harmonies are incredibly distinctive. So, this Christmas, I think of my friends and colleagues in that beautiful, troubled country, and pray for their health and peace as we journey into 2021. And I’d like to share this traditional Christmas carol from Soweto.

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