Thank you for all that every single one of you has done throughout this last year. Wishing you all peace, joy and love this Christmas, and the happiest and healthiest of new years.– From the clergy team at St. Thomas
Advent art by andrea
We really do have some incredibly talented people at St. Thomas! Look at this beautiful artwork contributed by Andrea, all inspired by Advent and the Christmas story.
You can click on each image to enlarge it in a new tab, so you can appreciate all the beautiful details and love put in!
Four Candles for Advent – a short story by Andrea
Andrea, a member of our Church family, has written this lovely Advent story to share. Thank you so much, Andrea!
Four candles are one of the items Ron had on his list when he goes shopping at his local hardware shop. Four candles for advent, as you do it.
He is glad that little hardware shop on the high street is still there. It is a quiet, old-fashioned shop, no annoying Christmas ditties playing, and other than in the popular British sketch, the shopkeeper understands Ron well, almost like a close friend… Always up for a chat. And that is very important for Ron. For a moment Ron wonders, what is the point of even buying candles this Advent? Nobody ever comes around. Ron lives on his own, a widower, and this year, to make things worse, no visitors allowed. Covid19. Shopping is the only time Ron would talk to another person. Candles? Christmas decorations? Why bother?
But then Ron remembers what those candles in advent meant. They were meant to bring light into this darkness. This darkness – nightfall by mid-afternoon. Steady stream of bad news – when will the next war be, which country the next dictatorship, when will life on the planet be impossible due to global heating…
Light as in hope on the horizon. As much as Christmas was about receiving the good news of Jesus’ birth, receiving gifts, Ron kind of knows it cannot be a one-way street. But what can he give? Donate to a foodbank, a charity?
Without thinking Ron makes himself a cup of tea and steps outside in front of his door. As people did during the clapping for carers. He can hear people talking. He can see festive decorations going up. Then he walks a few steps and starts speaking to the person taking a bin out a few doors up. About the cold weather and the short days. And about Christmas. It turns out he is called Ron as well, about ten years younger than him. A single man, just with a busy working life. The younger Ron says Christmas is meaningless to him, all he ever looks forward to is catching up with workmates at the office Christmas party, but then normally remembering nothing next morning as everyone would get wasted. Yes his parents would go to church and sing carols and do a big spread, but not this year.
After the two men chat for a while they agree that the true meaning of Christmas has been forgotten, all obliterated by this madness of stuff, too much food, that nonsense of Santa Claus rushing around like mad dropping off presents, enforced jollity whilst all the pain, suffering and social injustice carrying on across the world, despite of Christmas. They try to rediscover and retell the original Christmas story of Jesus’ birth and to understand how it would matter to us today. It is hard for them.
The simplicity – Jesus born in a stable, the simplicity to be just yourself where you are, no fuss, no keeping appearances, then walk up to your neighbour and start a conversation.
The gift giving – both Rons appreciated that getting to know a neighbour through a spontaneous and deep conversation is a gift indeed, especially in 2020.
Shepherds and wise men meeting each other – yes our older Ron was a man of manual work all of his life, a painter and decorator then a handyman. His younger namesake has a degree in business economics and works for a London based company I never understood in which position.
With all their differences they are trying to find common ground and wondering how they could make a difference, end all this darkness. Speak up against decisions that ruin futures. Lend a hand, even to a stranger. Not buy anything that is based on exploitation. Give to those who need. The list went on, the discussion becomes lively, even a little heated.
Other than their first name and their loneliness they have nothing in common, absolutely nothing, yet they decide that from now on they would pop outside with their cup of tea together more often. I cannot imagine how they even find common words to understand each other, but they have done somehow. Maybe because they both understand that the darkness of bad news, the social injustice, the uncertainty don’t just magically stop at Christmas. Rather than that their lives have been lit up this advent. They spontaneously invite each other to stop, listen, take in what happened around them. Advent is simple indeed and less spectacular, they know now.
Christmas Hamper Raffle
Our fundraising continues with an epic hamper raffle! We have EIGHT Christmas hampers up for grabs!
How To Enter
Tickets cost £2 each, you can buy as many as you like. Rev. Cat has made a JustGiving page to take payments for raffle tickets – head on over using the button below, and please do pay attention to Cat’s instructions on the page! She needs to be able to contact you if you win.
Rev. Jutta is being licensed as an Honorary Canon!
Rev. Jutta will be licensed as a Canon in a livestreamed service at 3.30pm on Sunday 15th November at St. Edmundsbury Cathedral. Everyone is invited to join the service online by watching the livestream on the Cathedral facebook page. The link is below.
Cathedral Canons are traditionally assigned a stall where they sit, and Jutta is being given St Benedict’s stall, which is very fitting due to her work with the Pilgrim Community and creating the Benedictine course.
Congratulations to Rev. Jutta!
We have a new newsletter out. If you’ve not yet had a copy, you can download it here: St Thomas Newsletter 11
A huge thank you to everyone who supported our Gift Appeal: we have raised an extra £5725 in October, which will be a huge help given we are losing £13,000 because of COVID. We are VERY grateful for your generosity! Please, continue to say the Bishops’ prayer (in red text under the photo of our lovely star) every day! Another huge THANK YOU: Canon Chris raised £287.50 for church funds through the sale of Christmas cards! Thanks all who bought cards from him.
Hymnathon and Carolathon!
On Sunday 6th December at 11am, our Director of Music, Simon, is going to perform a 2 hour marathon of hymns and carols as a fundraiser! Please sponsor this amazing event, which will be livestreamed on our facebook page, and do spread the word to get your friends and family to sponsor Simon!
Christmas Mini Market – Mail Order
Our mini market would’ve been happening this week on the 18th, but lockdown put a stop to the in-person aspect. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and we’ve decided to make it a mail order market! So you can still get your hands on yummy homemade jams, beautiful handmade cushions and Christmas decorations, and (the highly sought-after!) wooden bowls turned by Bishop Martin! Plus, we’ll be raffling off some lovely food hampers.
Details will be forthcoming with images of what’s available and how things will work, so stay tuned. (And don’t worry if you’re housebound – we can deliver your items to you.)
you are always with us,
and give us all we need to be your church
Help us, we pray, to give as we have received:
abundantly, generously, and joyfully,
that our worship and our service
may bear witness to your Kingdom of
In the name of your Son
who gave himself for us,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Preparing for Christmas
With the prospect of an unusual Advent and Christmas period this year, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, preparations are underway at St. Thomas’ to make sure we can still make this a very special time of year for everyone!
The Church of England campaign this year is Comfort and Joy. There’ll be more information on this as we get a bit nearer to the start of Advent.
We have events that we would be so grateful for help with!
Outdoor Christmas Mini Market – Wednesday 18th November 2020, 11am – 1:30pm
What we need: donations of jam/chutney, home-baked cakes (wrapped for safe distribution), and ITEMS FOR HAMPERS. We will be raffling off Christmas hampers of goodies. Please donate good quality food/drink, etc. by 8th Nov.
For more information, speak to Revd. Cat or Alison Gibbs.
Instead of the Children’s Christmas Craft Workshop we would usually run, this year we will be preparing shoeboxes with craft kits for children to make at home.
What we need: shoeboxes, children’s Christmas wrapping paper, Christmas cards, and volunteers to make the 4-5 crafts to go in the boxes.
To volunteer, donate items or just to find out more, please speak to Emma Knight.
Other Things Coming Up…
Christingle Service on Christmas Eve
What we need: volunteers to pre-make the Christingles, welcomers and sidespeople on Christmas Eve.
To volunteer, speak to Revd. Cat.
We are also planning:
- Carol Service in Church
- Candle-lit carols on Zoom
- Nativity video
- And more!
For all of this to work, we really need our St. Thomas Family to help us out. If you can donate time, finances, organisational skills, craft material, chocolate, or Christmas cards, it will make the world of difference!