Are you looking forward to Christmas?
From the middle of November, shops, media and advertising collude to convince us that Christmas is magical, full of joy and fulfilment. Cares are banished and laughing children reinforce the message that sadness and anxiety have no place in the festivities.
But for many reasons Christmas can be a difficult time of year. Perhaps a family bereavement, a broken relationship, loss of a job, or ill-health – there may be any number of reasons why people find it hard to join in with the festivities all around them. Many people find Christmas difficult as they are reminded of what they have lost or have never had, and we can feel very alone in the midst of all the celebrating and spending.
If you are not looking forward to Christmas, we would like to invite you to a special ‘Longest Night’ service on Wednesday 21st December at 7.00 pm in Enstone Church.
You will find space and time for quietness and reflection in the busyness of the Christmas season, and through music, readings and prayers that will focus on the true message of Christmas – God’s gift of hope and reconciliation to a hurting world, in the form of a vulnerable baby, born to shine a light into our darkness.
It’s our privilege to offer a space where the reality of life with its grief and pain does not have to be left at the church door but can sit alongside the hope and light which is the real heart of Christmas.
The service will last for about 40 minutes. All are welcome – no church experience necessary.
The discussion at the first of this year’s Advent Suppers focused on the challenge of forgiveness. We regularly pray that we may be forgiven as we forgive others and sometimes it is easy to forgive – but there are times when it is hard, even impossible. So how does the Bible help us understand how we might approach forgiveness? To help our discussion, we read some news stories including two about Eva Kor, a concentration camp survivor who was able to forgive the unforgivable when others would not or could not. We watched Rob Bell’s video ‘Luggage’ in which he argues that forgiveness is as much to do with setting ourselves free as it is lifting the burden of others. A lively discussion followed that ranged over a variety of personal experiences and produced some memorable mental images including filing cabinets, dead balloons and horse jumps!
Unfortunately time didn’t allow us to explore some of the wider questions, such as how forgiveness relates to desire for revenge, whether it means condoning bad behaviour and how it might differ from reconciliation. We plan to organise a discussion group next year to give us an opportunity to discuss some of these questions, maybe in the form of a book club. The Brothers Karamazov, anyone?
If you would like to look at the materials we used you can download them here. You can also find a link to the Bell video we watched.
If you haven’t signed up but would like to join us for the second and third Advent Suppers, please let Mark know by signing up here
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There will be Remembrance Day Services in each of the churches of the Benefice on Sunday 13 November 2016 at 10.15 am. We will observe the two minutes silence at 11 am.
We will remember
Sunday 6 November 2016 at 7:30pm
St Mary’s Church, Charlbury, Oxfordshire
George Butler is the son of Cotswold artist Amanda Cooper. He has been to some pretty hairy places like Afghanistan and Syria to draw the people and places and their stories. Proceeds will be divided between All Saints’, Shorthampton, St Mary’s, Charlbury and the charity which George set up with some friends – The Hands Up Foundation – which helps people in Syria so badly affected by the awful events there.
Tickets £12.50, to include a glass of wine and nibbles before the talk, from firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday 15 October 2016 at 7:30pm
St Nicholas Church, Chadlington, Oxfordshire, OX7 3LX
Come and hear the Reading Phoenix Choir, internationally acclaimed choir, sing a varied and beautiful selection of choral music at St. Nicholas’ Church in Chadlington this Saturday. The choir will be singing a range of music to include works by Parry, Morley, Rachmaninoff and Billy Joel. The concert starts at 7.30pm and tickets are priced at £10 (£5 for under 16s). We hope to see many of you there!