Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas is coming

This afternoon I was invited as chair of the Fairtrade Borough Partnership to attend the carol service at Queens Campus of Durham University and then to be part of the lantern procession over to the Town Hall for further carols and refreshments. The first issue to be resolved was transport - using a bus to get to Stockton for 4 would be OK but getting home again after 7? Not so easy, so on a rainy evening the car won.
I hadn't realised that the chaplain is a priest I've known since he was a young curate but not seen for some years so it was good to be able to catch up with him. The university had invited some residents from the nursing homes nearby as well as other Thornaby residents. So there was a good mix of people there and my lack of singing ability was nicely hidden by the orchestra and choir leading the singing.
The service started with the sharing of the Peace Light, a light brought by a long and not particularly easy route from Bethlehem as a reminder to us to bring peace to the people we meet and to pray for peace in Bethlehem and beyond.
A moving and thought provoking talk from the Dean of Stockton set Christmas and the carols firmly in context. What's the difference between an angel and a fairy? One brings a message of hope and one takes your wishes, one brings joy and the other brings fun. Hope and joy last through all manner of hardships but fun and wishful thinking don't. Happy Christmas one and all!
After the carol service we joined the college for dining, and then prepared for the procession. I'm afraid that our table were the rebels and encouraged by the Mayor we changed the route of the procession to walk over the Infinity Bridge. Despite the predictions of some we didn't get lost and we did enjoy fabulous views of the lights along the river.
At the end of the Ecclesiastes bridge we were met by the Mayor and mayoress with a handful of councillors and council officers. Tees Valley Youth Choir were waiting for us at the Town Hall and sang carols beautifully. If angels have voices they were being imitated tonight.
There was a cake to be cut, jointly by the Mayor and the Vice-Chancellor, and then drinks (including non-alcoholic mulled "wine") and food for all.
A truly festive occasion, full of all the good things in life - friendship, music, conversation, and working together.

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