Friday, 22 December 2017

When's the Midnight Communion (and other equally challenging questions)?

I've been asked the same question regarding the times of the Sunday services, what candle we should have lit last week and when the midnight Communion will take place by more than a few people and it's prompted me to write this little aid to Christmas peace of mind and harmony. Where’s Victor Meldrew (CofE Clegy Response Unit) when you need him?

Never mind, I’ll have a go ;-)

Candles: This Sunday is the fourth Sunday in Advent (Advent 4) and on this day we reflect upon the Virgin Mary. We have already lit the pink candle (Gaudete (rejoice) Sunday - Advent 3) and thought about John the Baptist so hopefully the only candle left matches the other two we've already lit over the past three weeks!

Service Times: The times for the Sunday morning services will (in the majority of places be the 'usual' times because it's a Sunday in Advent (No Sooty, Sweep's got it wrong, it's not Christmas yet!).

After Noon we get into the services for Christmas Eve. These include carol services, nativities and the traditional midnight service (what's that Sweep, your midnight service starts at 15:00 because you don't like the dark? No wonder people have been asking what time the midnight service is!!!!).

Christmas sort of starts on Christmas Eve - traditionally we put up trees and do all the Ho Ho Ho(ly cow - what do you mean your Mother's coming to stay?) stuff and end up singing 'Yea Lord we greet thee born this happy morning' (note, morning not early afternoon. But (and there's always a but [and sometimes a [butt] too) the general point of a 'midnight' service is that it ends after midnight so asking, "What time does your midnight Communion  / Mass / Service start?" is valid - ask the wrong person, "When is your midnight services?" and you are liable to get the answer, "August!"

So make sure you understand what it is you want to know and ask the right question (simple stuff this isn't it?).

A simple plea: If it's not Christmas Day then please don't sing the last verse!

Christmas Day is a day set aside for generally having a great time welcoming the baby and wishing one another a Merry or Happy or Blesséd Christmas (come near me with 'Happy Holiday' and you're liable to be torched with the pink candle - save that for the colonies please).


We get up on Christmas morning and do a number of services (yes Sweep, one is a number - so too are two, three and four, and all of these will apply for some of the clerics in the land on Christmas morning!) because it's Christmas Day.

I should point out to that those who like to bleat about 'being tired' and having to 'do so many services' that this is what we (clergy and many lay ministers, wardens and others) actually do at this time of year - so don't expect me to offer any sympathy for all the hard work you've been expected to do, just be ready for a withering stare!

I perhaps ought to add the cherry on the cake with the fact that some of us, if really blessed, will also manage to pop out and do some home Communions too (yes, really!).

Now that's what happens on the 24th and 25th December.

I hope this helps some of those confused folk out there.

Stay safe this Christmas  - be careful with your questions ;-)

Additional material:
“Are you away for Christmas?”
“When is the Carol Service?” (Especially when asked three days after said service)

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