Carols by Candlelight – 24th December 2011

This morning a group of us met up for prayer before we headed off to the High Street to hand out invitations for our Carols by Candlelight, held today at 5pm.  We had a good time in the town and handed out well over 500 invite cards in less than half an hour.

Invitation for this year's Carols by Candlelight

Afterwards we regrouped and shared a coffee in Costa Coffee before heading home.

This is the first time that we have held a carol service on Christmas Eve and we were delighted with the response.  Earlier in the week a group of us had gone carol singing, also for the first time, around the local roads and had handed out mince pies and sweets.  This had also been very positive and well received. 

Some 80 people gathered with us this evening for our Carols by Candlelight service to enjoy a tradition mixture of the Christmas favourites and listen to something about the real meaning of Christmas.

A few of the crowd at today's Carols by Candlelight service

The service was led by Alan Michael and began with the singing of Hark the herald angels sing, followed by prayer and a welcome to all.

The second carol was Silent Night, which was followed by a reading from Jeremy, based around the first subject in our ‘Step into Christmas’ series – Christmas: The Plan.

Some of the younger children from Sunday Club came up to sing Away in a manger.  This was followed by our second reading, read by Phil Bray and set around verses to highlight Christmas: The Person.

Our fourth carol was Once in royal David’s city.  After the carol, poems that the children had written about Christmas were displayed on the screen in the form of video clips showing them being read by their authors.

This was followed by our final readings which highlighted Christmas: The Purpose and were read by David Angell.

Our fifth carol was O little town of Bethlehem.  After this, David Hedges came up to speak.  He highlighted God’s present at Christmas – the sending of the Lord Jesus Christ into the world – and how easy it was to lose sight of this in among the distractions of Christmas.

Our final carol was O come all ye faithful which was followed by prayer.

Alan and David handed out presents for those who attend Sunday Club and explained that there was something for everyone to take away with the refreshments offered after the carol service.

Among other giveaways was a Parkside fridge magnet for 2012, which also proved somewhat popular.

2012 fridge magnet calendar

Overall, it was a tremendous evening and really encouraging for us all to see the hall full.  It’s definitely something that we’ll look to repeat next year.

Christmas: The Purpose – 18th December 2011

Today, some 45 people enjoyed the final carol service in our Step into Christmas series as we looked at the subject Christmas: The Purpose.

The service was once again hosted by Phil Bray and began with the carol Hark the herald angels sing followed by prayer.

The second carol was Away in a manger and was followed by the final installment of the Christmas Quiz which ultimately ended in victory for the Mince Pies.

The third carol was Infant Holy, infant lowly and was followed by playing the two video clips below:

Our fourth carol was O come all ye faithful and after this, Paul Cogger came up to speak.

Paul used examples of different activities which keep us busy over Christmas, as below, before gradually fading out the pictures to leave the cross as the real purpose of Christmas.


Paul closed in prayer before our final carol which was I cannot tell why He, whom angels worship.

As in previous weeks, we followed the service with hot drinks and mince pies.

Our next carol service is Carols by Candlelight on Christmas Eve.

Christmas: The Person – 11th December 2011

Today we held the second in our series of Carol Services known as Step into Christmas.

We had around 50 people at the carol service again, similar to last week.

The service was once again hosted by Phil Bray and began with Joy to the world followed by prayer.  Phil welcomed those attending and explained about the service being part of a series.

The second carol was Silent Night which was followed by the second installment of the Christmas Quiz which pitted Christmas Puddings against Mince Pies and involved those attending coming up to collect an envelope from the Christmas tree.  Inside the envelope was a card with points which the team could score if they answered a question correctly.

The third carol was See Him lying on a bed of straw.  This was followed by an excellent solo by Judith Hamm, singing O Holy Night while accompanying herself on the guitar.

The final carol, before Victor came to speak, was While Shepherds watched their flocks by night.

Victor spoke on Christmas: The Person and brought out verses showing that Jesus was a real man as well as being God.  He also displayed verses explaining that Jesus is the Son of God and our Saviour. 

As last week, we finished with coffee and mince pies in the back room.

Christmas: The Plan – 4th December 2011

Step into Christmas article in Maidenhead Advertiser 011211

Following an extensive campaign including creation of posters, invitations, social media and even a press-release for the Maidenhead Advertiser, we were pleased to welcome over 50 people for the first in our series of carol services in December entitled Step into Christmas.

The opening service was hosted by Phil Bray and began with the carol O little town of Bethlehem which was followed by prayer. 

Phil ran through the titles of the different services coming up and also mentioned a little about the planned Family Services for 2012 – the first of which will take place on 15th January at 11.30am.  The topic for the year will be Celebrations.

A sneak at some of next year's planned Family Services

Our second carol was It came upon the midnight clear.

After the carol, we had the first part 0f an Advent Calendar themed Quiz.  There were 24 envelopes hung on the Christmas tree and two teams (Christmas Puddings and Mince Pies) each took it in turns to send someone up to choose an envelope.  Each contained a unique number from 1 to 24 and a chocolate coin.

The number inside was linked to a question about Christmas, from the Advent calendar on the screen, with the points determined by the value of the number.  Higher value numbers generally meant that the questions were likely to be harder.

The Advent Calendar Quiz

At the end of the quiz the running points totals were: Mince Pies 52 points and Christmas Puddings 46 points.  This will continue for the next two weeks before prizes are awarded!

Our third carol was The Servant King, also known as From heaven you came.

After this, David Angell came up for a couple of minutes to talk about ‘What Christmas means to me‘.  David brought out his fondness to listening to Carols from Kings each year on Christmas Eve as well as touching on the real reason for Christmas.

After David had finished we sang Once in royal David’s city before Alan came up to speak on the opening topic – Christmas: The Plan.

Alan brought out, using the example of the work of Canadian artist Lewis Lavoie, that God viewed Christmas by looking at it from the ‘Big Picture’.  Alan ran through numerous examples in the Old Testament where it confirmed the timing and location where the birth of Jesus would take place and the fact that it was all part of God’s plan for Christmas. 

He also looked at the practical issues concerning the people involved in the story before finishing by reminding people that although we think of Jesus as a baby at Christmas, he didn’t stay that way and grew into a man who ultimately gave his life on the cross at Calvary.

After Alan had finished and closed in prayer, we enjoyed mince pies and other refreshments.

Everything seemed to work together well and we were encouraged by a positive beginning to the series of Step into Christmas.  Next week we have Victor taking the subject of Christmas: The Person.

You can see some of Lewis Lavoie’s amazing work below: