Dear Friends and Neighbours,

It was great to see both churches full at our Christmas Services. This year must have been almost a record for the Bread Service – about 130 people of all ages came to start their Christmas with a loaf (well, roll) of bread “to make sure no-one went hungry at Christmas”, in the words of John Bradshaw’s 1698 will. We were very fortunate to have David Thomson, Reader at King Charles the Martyr, to lead the short service, It was his first time at it (it does involve a fair amount of crowd control and clear loud speaking!) and he did it brilliantly.

We continue to have different Priests and Readers taking the services, and it was lovely to welcome back Revd. Brenda Tipping to take the services on Christmas Day at both churches. We learn a lot from the different styles of each priest – some are reflective and include a lot of silence, while others are lively and manage to pack a lot into their hour. I was particularly intrigued with the sermon preached by Bishop Stephen Venner, lately Bishop of Dover and now living in St. Albans, who used the subject of the Baptism of Christ to point out that God wants us to develop into the people He wants us to be, each different from each other. ALL are welcome at God’s altar: we don’t have to conform to some idea of holiness (quite possibly hypocritical, sort of pi-in-the-sky).

One of the consequences of having to find Priests for all the services is that sometimes no Priest is available and we have to rely on Readers. We are fortunate that Lay Canon Richard Osborn, from St. Mary’s, is able to offer Communion by Extension – the bread and the wine have been blessed and consecrated at a service earlier in the day by a Priest – but some Readers do not wish to do that, so at St. Giles, where the tradition has been to offer Communion every Sunday, we are going to explore the delights of Morning Worship, led by Nick Alexander, Reader at Christ Church Little Heath, on several Sundays in Spring and Summer. Again, we should enjoy the difference, and not seek the comfort blanket of familiarity.

I report elsewhere in the paper about the church and arrangements for a new Vicar. But I would implore you all to pray that someone may be moved to apply for the post, and that we gain a new pastoral leader for our Parishes.

May God Bless us all now and always,

William Marsterson, Churchwarden, St. Giles