Sunday 18th December, 2011

Two Carol Services

As usual on Sunday, we devoted quite a lot of time to Church activities.

In the morning, there was a carol service, organised and led by students and in the afternoon a more traditional carols by candlelight service.

Because I have been having problems getting to sleep at night, and then problems getting up in the morning, we have been getting into the habit of staying in bed quite late in the morning. There are two morning services at St. Mary's, 9am and 10:45am. Getting ready in time for the 10:45am service proved to be a real challenge for us.

Chris joined us for lunch (at our regular location, The Hatch). We had a problem getting a reservation because there was a large party booked, so we ended up having lunch late. It gave us the opportunity to make plans for the Christmas weekend.

The church at St. Mary's dates back to Anglo-Saxon times and there is a traditional church building built in stages in 1770,1880 and 1912 and a modern auditorium opened in 1995. Most services are in the modern auditorium, but Carols by Candlelight was in the old church building, which gave the service a rather comfortable, old-fashioned, feeling.

Food figures highly in the life of St. Mary's with coffee and chocolate biscuits after the morning service and mulled punch and mince pies after the evening service. This served to encourage people to stay around and talk.

Sue and I always used to be very busy and leave immediately after the end of the service. Since my cancer was diagnosed, we have taken to staying around for coffee and more importantly talking much more to other people. This has many benefits. From a purely selfish point of view, it is really encouraging to know how many people ask me how I am and tell me they are praying for me. However, it does give us an insight into the needs of other people.

Two comments from people are worth reporting.

"It is good to see you looking so well. When I saw you in August, I didn't think you would see Christmas."

(Talking about the likely results of my scan in January). "People who look as good as you do now don't have to go back (for more treatment)".

We were very surprised to see an old friend from the world of swimming at church. Maurice was chief coach of Basingstoke Swimming Club about 25 years ago. Our housegroup leader, Sarah, had invited him to the service. I wish I had the same courage to invite people like that to come and hear about God.

We continue to get good news about the teenager I have been talking about for several months. Her life is gradually returning to normality, although her wound is not completely healed and there is still a long was to go. She has been able to get out of the house and do some (limited) shopping. Another small step in her recovery. We are still praying that she will be able to join the rest of her family for lunch on Christmas Day.