Christ’s nativity has provided the occasion for Christmas, the festival of the incarnation, since the end of the third century. The Christmas crib and the nativity play can both be said to descend from the tableau of Christ’s birth that Francis of Assisi arranged when he celebrated Christmas at Greccio in 1223. Christmas carols are a medieval tradition, which has been notably developed from the end of the nineteenth century. The Festival of Lessons and Carols is itself an influential English creation of the late nineteenth century, made widespread by the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, in the first half of the twentieth.
The Christmas Festival at Langham is a splendid display of Christmas Trees, Cribs and Angels, and includes an informal service of Carols Amongst the Trees on Sunday 8 December at 4pm.
There are a number of Carol Services across the Team:
Sunday 15th December at Hambleton (5pm), Langham (6pm), Braunston (6pm) and Teigh (6pm)
Tuesday 17th December at Market Overton (6.30pm)
Wednesday 18th December at Chapel of St John & St Anne (2pm) and Egleton (6pm)
Thursday 19th December at Oakham (7.30pm) (Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols)
Sunday 22nd December at Ashwell (10.30am), Whissendine (6pm) and Brooke (6pm)
The Team Choir Laudamus will be singing at Langham, Whissendine, Market Overton and Oakham
The Crib Service, when the nativity scene is blessed, traditionally takes place on Christmas Eve, and services take place at Oakham, Langham & Whissendine (4pm), Market Overton (6pm). At Braunston, Journey to Jesus, at 3.30pm, starts in church, and sees the Nativity re-enacted as we move through the village – Mary and Joseph knock on the actual Inn door, and the shepherds and kings journey to find the newborn Jesus. On Sunday 15th December, members of the Sunday School at Oakham present and act out the Nativity story at the 10.30am Family Service.
Midnight Communion is the first celebration of Holy Communion in the Christmas season. Gathering in the darkness continues the Jewish pattern of keeping festivals from sunset of the day before. It also reminds us of the tradition of Jesus’ birth happening during the night, as described in the carols Silent Night and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.
The celebration of Christ’s incarnation at Christmas is one of the two poles of the Christian year. The wonderful mystery of God’s dwelling among us in the fullness of humanity, as Emmanuel, foretold by the prophets and born of Mary, provides the material of the feast as in the words of Thomas Pestel (1584-1659):
Hark, hark, the wise eternal word, like a weak infant cries! In form of servant is the Lord, and God in cradle lies.
Celebrations occur at Oakham (11.30pm), Whissendine & Langham (11.15pm), and Hambleton (9pm).
The celebration of Holy Communion on Christmas morning is when the whole church family come to rejoice in the birth of their Saviour. This service of Christmas Communion has regard for the presence of children in our service and there will be provision for them. Ultimately Christmas is more than simply the celebration of Jesus’ birth, and some of the great Christmas readings (Hebrews 1 and John 1) are not from the infancy narratives. The task of the Christmas liturgy is to recall us, amid all the joyful customs and celebrations of Christmas, to this central truth of the Word made flesh for our salvation.
The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory. John 1.14
Celebrations are at Oakham and Brooke (8am), Teigh and Market Overton (9am), Egleton (9.15am), Oakham (10am), Ashwell (10.30am) and Braunston (11am).
The Christmas Season
The Christmas season is often celebrated for twelve days, ending with the Epiphany. However contemporary use has sought to express an alternative tradition, in which Christmas lasts for a full forty days, ending with the Feast of the Presentation on 2 February. Please follow the links below for more details.
At Epiphany we celebrate one element in the story of Christ’s birth, the visit of the far-travelled magi, understood as the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. In the weeks after the Epiphany the readings will consider the Baptism of Jesus and his first miracle of changing water into wine.
We complete the season with the Feast of the Presentation of Christ, known as Candlemas. Then the child who has been manifested to the magi at his birth is now recognized by Simeon and Anna when he comes to be presented in the Temple according to the Law of Israel.