We're in St Thomas the Apostle Parish Church (Glen Parva with South Wigston) this morning for Mass of Christmas Day. We've brought Harry here for the Full Choir Eucharist, starting at 1000, and stay for the service.
I have to admit that this is the first time I've set foot in a church on Christmas Day. We were here yesterday afternoon for Christingle, when there was standing room only and a lot of children. It's not quite like that today but there's still a decent turnout and a good few kids among us.
It was so busy yesterday that I couldn't get a decent view of the Nativity scene at the back of the church, laid out before the Font. It's a lovely piece of work, carved from laburnum wood (there's a more traditional nativity scene in front of the Altar). I particularly like the star!
The service isn't especially Christmassey today; it's very much in the format of the Sung Eucharist that is held every Sunday morning (after all, Christmas Day does fall on a Sunday this year). At the point in the service where we rise from our seats and share the sign of peace with each other, we say "Peace be with you" rather than "Merry Christmas" or something similar, which I'd expected we would do. I wonder for how many people here this will be the only contact they have with others all day. The big difference from a regular Sunday morning service is that today the hymns are all Christmas Carols, so we know the words and the tune and can really belt them out - and I do!
I wanted to be able to include something a wee bit different about the spirit and true meaning of Christmas, something that perhaps I haven't seen anywhere else during this Festive Season. Here's the second reading from the service this morning, from the letter of Paul to Titus (Titus 2: 11-14)
The grace of God has appeared, bringing slavation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present have to live lives that are self-controlled, upright and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.
Grace gets a kick out of hearing here name included in the readings and hymns. She's well aware of the meaning and it never gets old for her.