One Christmas tradition I have observed this day and ever since I became a Christian in my teens, although there has been long gaps, was to attend midnight communion at my local Anglican church. This year was no exception and in time honored tradition I trundled along just after 11pm yesterday to my local Anglican church, St Lukes – up the road literally, which is unapologetically in the Anglo-Catholic camp, significant as I am seen to be in the opposite one.
Up to that point, I had become a bit hyper and tensed up because of various stuff going on and needed to wind down and for there to be a corrective to help get me in the Christmas spirit. Regarding my local Anglican parish church, I have a deal of affection for the vicar and those associated with that church and have been overall impressed by their endeavours to serve the community around the church and maintain a good Christian witness. This is despite theological reservations, but then my attending a service at that church had little to do with our differences in theological understanding but rather to do with my longing to focus on the reason for the season, something I feel this church does well and, dare I say it, better maybe than many others who are more my cup of tea theologically.
I was a little sad for the folk at the church that not more were in attendance and that the vicar will be moving on early next year after all his hard work building up the work. But I was heartened that those who did attend did so in the right spirit and with a desire to worship the Christ child. I was quite happy to be in my own bubble and to go with the flow, although I welcomed “the Peace” that takes places in churches of this nature these days and felt privileged to be able to take part in the sacrament, join in the prayers and hymns and dwell upon thoughts shared in the duration and the amazing Christmas story. Besides speaking with someone I did know, I was warmly greeted by (I think) an Eastern European family I didn’t know. I left feeling ready for bed yet strangely uplifted, able to face Christmas and reminded of those things that really mattered. I liked the final, uplifting words seen in the comprehensive order of service. Following my favorite Christmas carol: “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” – “Born to raise the sins of earth; born to give them second birth” were the words: “We hope you have enjoyed this service and that you have a joyful Christmas, a happy and peaceful New Year“.
After attending another uplifting service, at my own at the other end of the ecclesiological spectrum church, later that morning, I was able to enjoy a fantastic Christmas day with my family and various friends who we invited round, who enjoyed fantastic cooking thanks to the missus and lots of good hearted fun void of a lot of the political rough and tumble and communal tensions I often have to face the rest of the year. We spent time playing board games (Ticket to Ride) and an impromptu poker school. While mobiles weren’t entirely out of the picture, there was no TV as there was no need. But the highlight of today was midnight communion at St. Lukes.