Seven Churches in South Oxfordshire

From the Rector: Tuesday 5th December 2023

Coffee, Carols, and the Christmas List

Dear friends,

Checkendon church is hosting a community coffee (and mince pie) morning this coming Saturday from 10.30am in Checkendon Village Hall. Do pop in for a free coffee and mince pie. Its a great chance to catch up with your neighbours, and take a few moments in the maelstrom. There’ll be a model railway, a book exchange, and craft activities for children too. While you have your diary out, do note that this year’s Carol service(s) are on Sunday 17th December: Stoke Row at 4pm, and Checkendon at 6pm. A complete listing of all Christmas service across the team is here.

If you are in the middle of getting organised, can I ask you to add a couple of items to your Christmas list? The first is a couple of tins or jars to go into the foodbank collection, (just inside the church door) and the second is not to forget to put something out for the birds in the cold weather. Just small things, but they make a big difference.

The Christmas List normally comes on two different sheets of paper. There is the “list of things to do”, which is the one that looks far too intimidating, and needs something akin to the D-Day logistics plan in place so that the wheels don’t come off. Then there is the “list of gifts” which well meaning but obviously under occupied relations start requesting at the end of August.  In the church calendar, the season of Advent is noticeably at odds with contemporary culture, in that we are urged to “watch and wait”, rather than “shop and scoff”. Advent is at its root a time of fasting, prayer, and penitence, as we prepare our inner selves for the return of Christ. Although there are glimmers of this at the moment in both the “dry December” abstinence, and also this year’s COP climate conference, which does serve to remind us that we all have to put our hands up in varying degrees for the despoiling of the beauty and harmony of God’s good earth. The Covid enquiry too could be regarded as penitential,  in that we are all praying that not only individuals but also institutions will be able to find the strength to be honest and then live differently as a result. Humanly, this is impossible, which is why we pray for the grace of God.

Worship Services for Sunday 10th December. Second Sunday of Advent.

9.30am Morning Prayer at St John’s Stoke Row

11am Holy Communion at St Peter and Paul, Checkendon with Canon Kevin Davies

Midweek zoom service: Wednesday Evensong at 5.00pm  410 935 129

The Christmas List

Bar of Gold. Make that two, as you’ll have to buy a camel and pay a few hotel bills to deliver the first one. But should you get a talent, or a shekel in weight? How generous dare you be?

Box of Frankincense. You’ll need to pay tax on this at customs, as it is sacred. But should you get a seah, or a kab, in volume? How can you carry holiness around? Does one require a qualification or protective clothing?

Jar of Myrhh. Is this better in the paste form, or the liquid? You’ll have to take it as hand luggage in any case, because they’ll want to know who it is for. But would a pim, or a mina be more appropriate? Is it better from the undertaker, or from the wood products section in the DIY store?

May the Lord bless you, in all your Christmas planning and decision making. May you find (make) some space this season to return to the reason for it all; Jesus Christ, the prince of peace. Add one last thing, please, to your list; five minutes for yourself. And the Lord. No need to do anything, or say anything, or give anything. Just enjoy the silence and listen to it.

“What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb. If I were a wise man, I would do my part. Yet what I can I give Him, give my heart.”

with my warmest greetings

Revd Canon Kevin


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