Today is Christmas Eve. Today I will begin to rejoice – at around 10 pm. Because today I am running two Christingle Services, one at 3pm, one at 5pm, in the same church. Colleagues will be doing the same at 3.30 up the hill.
Christingle Services terrify me. They are full to bursting of folk for whom this is their annual trip to church, who know what carols they want to hear, and who want to admire the children singing “Away in a Manger” in the candlelight. I will be busy worrying about fire marshalling, crowd control, about how to engage people.
It is salutary to do my Advent reading – day 24. Christ came for everyone, Christ came to walk with each of us, Christ comes into everyone’s life as long as he is invited. Christingle is part of that invitation, that invitation which is there for everyone, not just for those members of the club who know when to stand up and sit down, who know all the words, who know how to “do” church. Christingle is an opportunity for me to be part of the welcoming face of church, to offer an invitation to learn more about God with other Christians. It’s an invitation which is being extended to people who want to “do” God, however frequently. Christingle is one of those services, along with Remembrance Sunday and All Souls, where we truly feel like a parish church, there for everyone.
So come to Christingle, with its stories, its carols, its chaos. Come if you can read, come if you can’t. Come if you know the words to “Away in a manger”, come if you don’t. Come if you can’t sit still, come if you can’t stand up. Come if you want to hear the Christmas story, come if you want to get out of the house. Come if you’re young at heart, come if you bear the weight of cares heavily on your shoulders.
Come – and help me start rejoicing before 10pm tonight. Merry Christmas!