Just as with any journey, my journey to the Royal Hospital Chelsea Carol Service yesterday, gave me time for reflection – unfortunately yesterday also involved buying extra socks to keep out the cold, (thank you TM Lewin and no I didn’t want to sign up to your newsletter, I just want socks!), getting lost on the Circle Line and failing to hail a cab in the freezing rain…. but that’s another story altogether.
In between all that, however I reflected what an extraordinary year it has been, stepping down as a Councillor, opening up my heart in more than ways than one and gaining new experiences in different churches, have all been challenging and life affirming in equal measure.
In addition to the work I have done at St Clement’s I have also been working at St. Andrew’s Chesterton, over the last 6 months. I have led prayers, preached, herded sheep for the Nativity (of the cotton wool toddler wearing variety), Deaconed (assisted at the Eucharist and pronounced the Gospel), unfolded and folded up a lot of tables, explained my life story to numerous curious members of the congregation over post church coffee, told I have 3 advantages should I become a vicar: tall; a strong voice and nice shoes and came out considerably lighter of pocket from the Autumn Fayre . I have also led a service in an older people’s home, drunk a great deal of tea and realised that parishes and ministries are sustained by biscuits and prayer in equal measure.
In a church that is very used to Ordinands, I was touched by the welcome that I received from St Andrews. It has been a privilege to gain insight into the life and organisation of a different Parish church working alongside a dedicated and fun loving ministry team and it’s a church where faith is worn lightly & yet deeply and I have clearly seen the face of Christ in those I’ve worked alongside.
Just before I leave to spend time with my family for Christmas, I am looking forward to ending this church –full year, in the St. Andrew’s churchyard on Thursday evening where I will be joining the Chesterton community for Carol’s to herald Christmas. I will be doing a reading (with that strong voice again, ‘though I’m not sure that my shoes this time will be noticed in the dark).
After yesterday’s Advent 3 service at St Andrew’s, and after unfolding and moving even more tables to set up for Christmas craft, I was lucky enough to be the guest of two chaps in scarlet (Chelsea pensioners) along with two dear friends at the annual Carol Service in the stunning Wren Chapel, The Royal Hospital. As I sat in the dark listening to the candle lit choir, penetrating the gloom with ‘Once In Royal David’s City’, I was struck how each of the red robed veterans had all had their unique journeys of service & challenge in life.
I feel grateful this Christmas that I have come so far on my own journey and look forward with anticipation to what is yet to come.
So as the soloist’s voice soared to the roof of the beautiful Wren chapel, painting the image of the familiar yet extraordinary nativity, I was also reminded of the beautiful Bethlehem star now hanging from the chancel arch at St. Andrew’s and the invitation that God offers to us all to journey in our minds and indeed hearts to Royal David’s City.
Christmas blessings to all
Bethlehem star at St.Andrew’s