1 December 2019: Advent Sunday
It is Advent Sunday today. Our Rector lit the first of the Advent candles quietly before the 8 o’clock communion service began. At the 10:30 Worship Together service, bringing together the Sunday Special and the traditional congregations, she got one of the children to light it at the start of the service.
Worship Together was led jointly by the Rector and my wife. Two talks were given, one by my wife and the other by a representative of the Prison Fellowship. This was because these days we always use the first Sunday in December to collect toys for the Fellowship’s Angel Tree Campaign. This is a scheme to provide Christmas gifts for children who have a parent in prison, sent by Prison Fellowship in the parent’s name.
My wife spoke about Angel Tree and explained the way it operates. She also read from some to the letters of thanks that had been sent to Prison Fellowship by prisoners and their families and from an article by an ex-prisoner who had become an Angel Tree volunteer. He said that working on Angel Tree made him appreciate the selfless work put in by volunteers.
The speaker from the Prison Fellowship spoke about Sycamore Tree, the Fellowship’s restorative justice programme. She started by asking if anyone knew the story of Zacchaeus. A nine year-old girl from the Sunday Special congregation spoke up and told Zacchaeus’s story in full detail. (I did find myself wondering whether she would end up as Archbishop of Canterbury. I’m unlikely to live long enough to find out.)