I quite like Nativity scenes and was pleased to see, in a shop in Black Jack Street, Cirencester, a tableau comprising of what appeared to be hippopotamus’s – one flying like an angel (how do the aerodynamics work there?!), Mary and Joseph and the baby. We have more traditional Nativity scenes in some of our churches!
The first Nativity scene was created by St Francis in a town in Italy, so that people could be helped to visualize the events of that first Christmas.
Of course, Nativity scenes tend to sanitize or romanticize the events – Mary always seems to be serene even though she has just given birth, following a wearisome journey to a strange town, in a stable really only fit for animals. And there she is surrounded by a perplexed fiancé, some passing shepherds and three wise men who bring less than practical presents!
When my sister had her first child there was a mad dash half the way across the country as ‘we’ (my mother actually) was desperate to see the new born grandson – Thomas – there and then; and make sure her daughter was alright. I’m not sure my sister was really wanting to see grandma, brother and sister-in-law; but she was always a ‘daddy’s girl’ – so ‘granddad’ being with us redeemed the situation!
Wanting to see a new born grandchild or child is very much a human response to a new birth. New babies bring smiles and joy. This story of the birth of a very special baby – God coming into the world in a natural way, in extraordinary circumstances – engendered that human response – people wanting to see the new born child; and it makes me wonder at the risk God took in coming amongst us.
Like the shepherds, angels and wise men, this Christmas – ‘O, come let us adore him’.
The Rev’d John Swanton
Services at All Saints’ Church
Sunday 2nd December : Advent Sunday
10.00am Parish Communion
Sunday 9th December: 2nd Sunday of Advent
10.00am Parish Communion : Harnhill
5.30pm Carol Service and Candlelight with the Cantores Choir, followed by Mulled wine and Mince Pies
Sunday 16th December: 3rd Sunday of Advent
10.00am Parish Communion at Ampney Crucis
4pm The Nativity at Harnhill Come dressed as a shepherd, angel, wiseman!
Sunday 23rd December: 4th Sunday of Advent
10am Parish Communion at Poulton
5pm Carol Service at Poulton
Monday 24th December: Christmas Eve
3.00pm Crib Service
5.00pm Carols by Candlelight Driffield
11.15pm Midnight Communion at Ampney Crucis
Tuesday 25th December: Christmas Day
10am Family Communion on Christmas Day – a jolly service!
Sunday 30th December:
10am Parish Communion at Ampney St Peter
No Coffee morning in December.
See Church website for more information – just Google ‘Ampney Vicar’ and it appears!
Thank you to everyone who helped at the Down Ampney Christmas Bazaar.
The Rev’d John Swanton
01285 – 851309