Having made it through the madness of the Christmas season, Alan reflects briefly on the way Christmas gatherings and services unfolded after a tumultuous year.
Anyone who saw the advertising for the Christmas services we as a parish were offering this year would know there was a lot going on. With this the first year of our life as a wider parish, incorporating the churches of Puketapu and Crownthorpe, there were a number of new gatherings and events for us to pull together and run. Highlights of the rural churches this year were the Puketapu pageant and the wonderful job the After School kids did, alongside some locals, putting on the nativity play. With laughs at the right moments, and everyone stepping up to make it happen it was a lovely afternoon of community lifting joy and fun. This was complemented by the gathering at the Memorial Chapel of St George in Crownthorpe on Christmas Eve where 70 locals gathered in full voice and beautiful tune to sing in Christmas with traditional carols and readings.
Alongside these traditional gatherings, several new ones were wonderful occasions as well. Of particular note is the Carols and Bubbles gathering on Christmas Eve. With around 70 people coming together, the majority of whom had not attended the church before, we had a wonderful sing through some of the classic carols punctuated by a stunning solo of O Holy Night by Amy Whyman. This will definitely become a fixture of our annual Christmas gatherings into the future. Gatherings such as this have been made possible by a closer relationship with the Cathedral, who held many of the traditional Christmas services (Nine Lessons and Midnight Mass) so that we could be free to experiment with reaching people in a new way this Christmas.
Christmas Day itself was also a wonderful occasion. With a significant leap in attendance at both All Saints and St Michael's, Puketapu, we were able to gather in full voice and joy with over 200 people between the churches to mark a wonderful end to the up and down experiences of 2023.
Thank you to everyone who gave their time, energy and talent to make all of the gatherings we held possible. Your help has helped the glad tidings of good news reach even more ears this Christmas season and perhaps helped to bring Jesus to birth in the heart of someone new as he was so many years ago in Bethlehem!