Rev Toby’s December Newsletter

Dear readers
The Parish Magazine is an important means of people keeping in touch with both our churches. Lots of people enjoy reading the news, articles, and the various snippets of interesting information found within its covers. Thank you for supporting it yourself! Sadly, however, readership has declined and very many copies are still at the back of church at the end of each month only ready for recycling. Recently, the PCCs – and a special group including representatives of both parishes – have been looking at how to make our parish magazine ‘fit for purpose’ for the 21st Century. We have concluded that it is time for a major re-design and re-launch to tie in with the websites and facebook pages both parishes now operate.
So, from January 2019, look out for a new-look, all colour newsletter called Saints and Angels. Rather than a booklet form, it will be a single folded sheet of A3. We hope that its bright design, with plenty of photos, will be read by all those who go to church – and by many who don’t. Because we want as many people as possible to read it we are making Saints and Angels free. However, if you would like to give a donation (either via your magazine deliverer, if you receive it door to door, or as you take a copy from church) that would be much appreciated. We are also hoping that each edition will be sponsored by a local firm, or perhaps an individual or family. Copies of The See will continue to be available at the back of each church and delivered to those who wish.
I am delighted that David Clarke has agreed to take on a co-ordinating role for the newsletter. I hope that you will give him your co-operation if he asks you to contribute. And if you would be interested in being part of a small team working on the newsletter, please speak to him, me, or one of the churchwardens. Please also let us know if you are aware of a venue in the community where we may be permitted to leave a small pile of copies for anyone to browse or take away.
Please let us have your feedback on ‘Saints and Angels’ – any elements you miss from the old magazine, any items you would like to see. We will keep things under review and will seek to gradually refine the newsletter ‘til we get it right.
A big thank you to Peter Kenyon for all he does above and beyond with the current magazine, and for working with us on the new look newsletter. It really is appreciated, Peter.
If this letter has been about communications, don’t let me finish without remembering that Christmas celebrates the communication of the amazing news that the Christ has come, that God has not just sent his angels, his prophets and his kings, but has come himself, has lived as one of us, and has redeemed us from the dust of sin and death that we might share his life and glory. As Christmas draws near let us join our voices with the angels to communicate the beautiful message “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”
With every prayer for a blessed and peaceful Christmas for you and yours

Advent opportunities
At such a busy time of year, it’s always hard to carve out the time we need in Advent to reflect on the coming gift of Christ – and to heed the call to repent and prepare our hearts both for Christmas and his final coming in glory. To help us, we are offering Advent Reflections on Thursday evenings (6, 13, 20 December), 7:30 til 8:15 in the chapel of All Saints’ Church. All are most welcome. This year we will focus the reflections on words of some of the Advent carols.
As last year, there will also be a short simple celebration of Holy Communion, largely by candlelight,

7:45 – 8:15am on the Tuesdays in Advent (4, 11, 18 December).
Christmas Gloria
The A Capella singers will be giving a Christmas Concert in All Saints’ Church on Sunday 9th December from 2:30pm. They will sing Poulenc’s Gloria and lots of Christamas music (including a few carols for us all to join in with. Coffee and mince pies will be served in the interval. Tickets are £8, but under-12s go free. Please support this event and encourage your friends and family to come along, too.
Special services in the run-up to Christmas
As usual All Saints’ Christingle will be in the Friday Praise slot – 14th December at 6:30pm.
At Altham there won’t be a pre-Christmas family service this year. Instead there will be a Messy Christingle, with craft from 3pm, refreshments at around 3:45 and Christingle Service at 4pm. All most welcome (children must be accompanied).

17th December is Lancashire Sings Christmas and we are again invited to join with our friends from the Methodist congregation and others to join in at the Arthur Wilson Centre from 7pm. Refreshments will be served and I expect there will be a quiz or similar afterwards.

This year our carol services will be on different Sundays, maximising your choice (or why not go to both? Whilst the readings are the same, the feel is quite different.) Sunday 16th at 6:30pm in All Saints’, Sunday 23rd at 4pm at St James’ (with the Haslingden Concert Band, who will play seasonal music from 3:30pm).

This year the Crib service at 4pm won’t, sadly, be enhanced by the presence of live sheep! Still be the perfect way to begin Christmas itself, though. Our Christmas Communions will be 11:30pm at All Saints’ and 10am at Altham, as usual. Please see the diary for the detailed service pattern around Christmas and New Year.

Traditional language services
Those who attend our traditional language Communions (8am on Sundays, 10am on Wednesdays) will know that most of the booklets have seen better days. During Advent we shall trial the use of the modern language service at these times. After the trial month there will be a consultation on whether to move to the modern language form of the service permanently, or to invest in some new traditional language booklets.

Congratulations to all those who were confirmed in All Saints’ on 8th November. We had a joyous celebration with Bishop Geoff and many candidates. The lady who unfortunately fell coming up for Communion did break her arm but is now recovering well.
From our own parishes the newly confirmed are Milly Harrison (who was also baptised), Scarlett Atkin, Keegan Beaumont, Mia Cregg, Oliver Currie, Evan Fensome, Livia Gardner Lewis Hawke, Max Helm, Joshua Houghton, Mrs Dorothy Iveson, Nathan Johns, Jac Jones, Ella McIntyre, Mia Newton, Callum Osborne, Jack Preston, Thomas Tattersall and Franchesca Wright. Also amongst those confirmed were Mr Michael and Mrs Gail Whittaker of Trinity Community Church in Accrington, who were with us as trainee readers in the early part of the year.