Round the churches

Mearns Coastal Parish Church

Once again as part of the Traditional Christmas Eve Torch-light Carol Service, Mearns Coastal Parish Church will be staging an Alternative Nativity Play at St Cyrus Parish Church at 7pm.

While these plays contain elements of the Traditional Nativity Story, they are quite unique. This year’s play is entitled, ‘Bethlehem Toon Cooncil’ is based around a meeting of Bethlehem ‘Toon Cooncil’ which took place the night Jesus was born. It involves some characters from today’s political scene, such as Nicoal Sturgeon, Jonny Swindle, Soapy Salmon, David Cameroon Bar and Ralph the dog, as well as some of the traditional players from the Nativity Story.

The idea is to present the real Christmas story in an interesting and amusing way, suitable for all ages.

As always, the play is only part of the Service, with traditional Bible Lessons and Carol singing by torchlight, accompanied by the organist , Helen Doig. This year we also have a soloist, Susan Moir, who will be singing ‘O Holy Night’.

The Service is at St Cyrus Parish Church on Thursday December 24th at 7.00 pm. All are welcome to come along and if you are, remember and bring your own torch.

On Christmas Day there will be a Service in St Cyrus Parish Church at 10.00 am, where everyone is welcome. The offering will be for Shelter Scotland and the INF Medical Camps in Nepal.

News from St James – 4th Week in Advent

Well, and what a busy week it has been! On Thursday the toddlers and their Mums and Grandmas were joined by Primary 1 class from Dunnottar School for their Christingle service. The children had been practising their songs, conducted by Anne O’Gorman, our Sunday Club leader. They were all really excited, and loved the brightly decorated church and the Bethlehem scene. They listened carefully to the explanation of the meaning of the Christingle (the orange, pierced with four sticks upon which were fruits, surrounded by a red ribbon and with a candle set into the top – all these have religious significance which most of your readers will know).

Sunday saw our usual services of Communion from the Reserved Sacrament, conducted by Peter Smart, Warden of Readers. He preached on the gospel reading of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. His address drew us into the situation of Mary, little more than a child herself, running to her Aunty Elizabeth, who was six months pregnant with a child, conceived in her ‘old age’. Elizabeth did not greet her with the usual ‘shalom’ but with the blessing ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

Why is it that the mother of the Lord comes to visit me?’ She said how her own child leaped In her womb. Peter reminded the congregation of other women in the Bible who had conceived in their older years, chosen by God for a special purpose: Sarah the wife of Abraham and Hannah, wife of Elkanah. . Now God has chosen these two women to begin the transformation of the world. One to give birth to the one who would prepare the way of the Lord and the other to be the mother of the Son of God.

Peter remarked that the blessing that Elizabeth offered to Mary is the first of several benedictions in the opening two chapters of Luke’s Gospel. Then comes Mary’s own song of praise, the Magnificat, then Zechariah’s prophecy and finally Simeon’s blessing on the baby Jesus in the Temple, the Nunc Dimittis. Finally Peter pointed out the similarity between Mary’s song of praise, and the prayer that Hannah offered after the birth of her son, Samuel.

Peter concluded, as we wait another five days for the birth of Jesus, let us join with Hannah and Mary in praising God for all the good things he does for us. Let our hearts exult in the Lord, and our souls magnify him.

Later that afternoon, the congregation from St James was joined by worshippers from other churches in Stonehaven for our Advent Carol Service. This was based on the traditional Nine Lessons and Carols which involves as many people as possible in our congregations. The ‘Lessons’ are a series of readings from scripture, as the introduction to the service says ‘Let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious Redemption brought us by this Holy Child’ The readings were taken by members of the congregation, from a young boy up to a senior lay person. The carols were popular, well-known ones, with very ‘singable’ tunes. The service was arranged and led by our Lay Reader, Anne, who afterwards invited all to stay for a fly cup and piece of birthday cake, which just ‘happened’ to be there.

Our services for Christmas will be – Midnight Mass on Thursday, 24th December, starting at 11.30 pm, a Family Service on Christmas morning, at 9.30 – all are welcome – then our usual services on Sunday and Wednesday of next week. A final reminder, there will be a community Lunch for anyone who would otherwise be eating alone on Christmas Day, in the Hall behind St James’ church starting at 11.00..