According to the V&A museum, Christmas cards were first exchanged in the mid 19th Century; the very first being in 1843 sent by Henry Cole, who specially commissioned a card as a means to responding quickly to seasonal letter-form post. His friend, John Horsley, provided the illustration, and, seeing a potential commercial opportunity they decided to publish the cards for sale. This was a time of great change in Christmas tradition. Charles Dickens published ‘A Christmas Carol’ in the same year and Prince Albert was very keen in introducing Christmas traditions from his native Germany (such as the Christmas tree). And so, in a few short years, Christmas cards became a firm part of British Christmas tradition.
That first card was not a religious scene, or even a pastoral countryside scene. There was no soft focus snow freckled robin or even a cartoon picture of Rudolph. Jesus is not mentioned, nor God for that matter. You can see it here: https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/the-first-christmas-card
But what it does show is a family celebrating, and crucially, a family giving and sharing. It is a scene of joy, and of enjoying, with each other around us. It is a scene of love. And this is the deep spiritual tradition of Christmas.
For many, this Christmas will be one where they are not able to see all of the friends and family that they would like to. For many it will also be another Christmas where they are alone and would rather not be. The humble Christmas card is one of many ways of letting someone know that they are known and loved. Maybe it’s a phone call, maybe a knock on the door (suitably socially distanced of course). Maybe it’s a letter. Here is an extract from such a letter from the German theologian Deitrich Bonhoeffer, written to his parents from prison in 1943, and which speaks of the importance of the spiritual tradition:
“Dear parents…I don’t need to tell you how much I long for freedom and for you all. But over the decades you have provided for us such incomparably beautiful Christmases that my thankful remembrance of them is strong enough to light up one dark Christmas. Only such times can really reveal what it means to have a past and an inner heritage that is independent of chance and the changing of the times. The awareness of a spiritual tradition that reaches through the centuries gives one a certain feeling of security in the face of all transitory difficulties.”
Church gatherings in December and over Christmas
We have a number of services in church and outside carol singing events happening across the Benefice this month, which is really lovely. It is such a blessing in these times that we are able to hold these events and services.
Please do take special care when coming to these gatherings. We remain in a high risk tier for COVID, and it is a very real threat. In this colder and damper weather we are further at risk than earlier in the year, and also all the more exposed to contracting the normal range of bugs and colds.
At all events and services we must all observe 2m (6ft) social distancing with each other (unless in the same household) and not be interacting amongst household groups. Please follow the directions of those stewarding, but also please take your own responsibility to be safe, if not just for yourself, but also for those around you.
Please also bear in mind there is no expectation on anyone to feel that they must attend any church event. If you are unsure, ask yourself this question; “what would I say to someone just like me?”
Thursday 10th December
11am Midweek Holy Communion at Chaffcombe (Rev Terri)
Sunday 13th December
10am Chaffcombe – Holy Communion (Rev Philip)
4pm Thorncombe – Rev Judith
Live at 11:30 on Zoom and recording available later in the day:
Meeting ID: 738 2611 9098
The video of the service will be uploaded to our website from about 1pm at:
Thursday Evening Zoom
Forthcoming Thursday Evening Zoom worship at 7:30pm:
Meeting ID: 761 0841 9112
10th December – Advent Evening Prayer; Christmas Cards
17th December – Advent Evening Prayer; Music
During Advent our Evening Prayer follows our theme of Comfort and Joy and we are using a special liturgy prepared by Rev Michelle.
You will find details of Christmas events on the website at a special page:
Do have a look at Rev Michelle’s video for young families (and the young at heart!). The 2nd of the 3 parts will be uploaded this weekend.
Our online Christingle service will be available from 15th December and a link to that will be circulated once that is available.
A big personal thank you from my family and I for all your prayer and support over the past week as the inquest into the death of my sister, Lulu, was held. It is hugely appreciated.
I am also pleased to report that Michelle, James, Florence and I completed our cycling challenge in memory of Lulu and in aid of Rethink Mental Illness. We raised £620 which we are absolutely thrilled about!
All churches continue to be open during the week for an hour for private individual prayer.
Wednesdays – Tatworth, Cricket Malherbie & Thorncombe at 11am
Thursdays – Chaffcombe & Winsham at 11am
· That we may celebrate the traditions of those around us and see the comfort and joy they bring – that in their joy we may know joy.
· That there is reaching out to those around us who are struggling to know the love that they are held in, by their brothers and sisters in Christ, and Christ Himself.
· That through all of the Christmas imagery, lights, cards, music, we may all know deep down the unchanging truth of the incarnation; of God with us in love and companionship.
We also pray for those we know who are sick, and those we don’t know, including those we are asked to pray by name for:
Bishop Peter Hancock; Hannah Knott; Rob Allen; Lynne and Bruce Applegarth; Phyllis Baker; Margaret Bandy; Sue Bennett; Sue Cheese; Terry Conway; Nick Frankau; Paul Glazier; David Goodwill; Mike Heywood; Joy Howard; Ann Jarvis; Frank Long; Peter McHugh; Diana Rowlands; Ann Ricketts; Jim Tucker; Rosemary Walley; Rosemary Walton; Vivien Wheaton; Alan Wills, Anna Woodward; Pamala Young; Milly granddaughter of Jane & Alan Rudkin; Gillian Muggeridge; Chris Gould; Brian Griffiths; Peter Hathway; Dorothy Down; Brian Turner; Diana Kershaw
We remember in our prayers those who we love and see no longer, and the families and friends of those bereaved:
Nick Besley; Robert Gibbs; Rob Purser
SCRIPTURE FOR THE WEEK
We are focusing on a specific bible passage each week for Advent.
This week it is Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.
PRAYER FOR THE WEEK:
The Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent (13th December) – John the Baptist:
God for whom we watch and wait,
you sent John the Baptist to prepare the way of your Son:
give us courage to speak the truth,
to hunger for justice,
and to suffer for the cause of right,
with Jesus Christ our Lord.
With every blessing