Christmas previews underway

Nativity manger with really baby (800x533)When it comes, the Dubai Christmas warm up comes in a rush. Over the last week 6 carols services with one more to enjoy tonight. Then it’s over! Funny how Dubai always does Christmas early in a desperate rush to fit it all in before so many people go away back home for the main event! Still, there’s lots that stay too, more and more each year as costs increase faster than salaries, and it will be good to see you all.

The chamber choir at the Mission to Seafarers Concert last Thursday started with an interesting version of a well known song (Es ist ein Ros) – listening to it on my computer it’s a bit boring but in the acoustic of our church it was absolutely magical as the chords meshed in an out of focus. Reminded me of when they did Lux Arumque (It’s about time they put some quality youtube clips out of their own performances as they are as good as the links I give 😉 ) On Friday of course we had our own Nativity and carols service pictured above with a real live baby Jesus. The children were of course wonderful but I think only the Friday school teachers will appreciate how much it takes to get such a bunch together! On Saturday we had a Christingle and carols service – at the DESC there are thick curtains so we could enjoy the candles in darkness with the lights off very well. That was followed by a Guides and Brownies Christingle in the same hall so we darkened it again for that and there had my second mince pie of the season.Guides Brownies Rainbow Christingle service at Academic City 2014 (800x450) I do find this time of year very moving, normally because of the memories of years past but this year it is the recent years past that are uppermost in my mind because we’re leaving Dubai. So many beautiful Nativity plays and Uniformed Organisations services we have done together! Memories of eleven Christmas concerts each from the Dubai Chamber Choir and Dubai Singers to add to the mix of feelings as I hear their wonderful harmonies fill our church – how much I long for their concerts, filled with words of Christian teaching and worship, to be sung to God rather than to the audience, and for the audience to become, with the choir, a congregation praising God! Of course many in their concerts ARE praising God and I encourage you not to let this warm up be the heart of your Christmas – come for the main event!

Christmas Midnight 11pm, and Christmas Day 9.30am. If you have family visiting who have missed it, or just want to sing some more carols and pray to God together, we have another Christingle service at Christ Church on the 28th at 6pm.

And of course, don’t forget we’re open every week for private prayer, and any Friday 9.30am, Saturday 9.30am (Academic City) and Sunday 7.30pm to join with others to sing carols galore until 12th night :) .

Christmas Quiet

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog posting front. Well, it’s been busy. We are now almost at the end of the carol concerts season – just one more to go on Sunday night  (16th at 7.30pm) with our 9 Lessons and Carols, before about two thirds of our congregation disappear on holiday. To me the carol concerts season and the Christmas season are quite different. Mostly, the carols concerts are about celebrating the fun of the season with performance, taking as our theme the Christmas story who’s celebration is still to come. It’s like an old fashioned party time at home where each brings a skit and we all rejoice together. I like it, but I also find it difficult, because for me it seems so odd to listen to a brilliant rendition of a meditative song like Lux Arumque for example (see below for the meaning) and then follow it with rowdy applause. There is little thought for the music or the words as we enjoy being caught up in the performance – although the music and the words could leave us lost in wonder, there is no time to be lost there, the applause slaps us back to reality then dies quickly to launch us onto another song and we’re off again, admiring how clever they all are, thoroughly entertained!

Our 9 Lessons and Carols service has always been something in between. It’s still a concert in a sense, and we will applaud the choir at the end, but there’s no applause between songs but rather a steady progression of  reflection though all those bible readings and some prayers. After the froth of the carols concerts season this service is a good transition to the  Christmas season. Those who find the party is enough will return next year for the concerts and they will all be very welcome. Those who wish ‘in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass’ await their celebration still.

I would love to hear Lux Arumque at our Christingle service (Sunday 23rd 6pm). We are doing baptisms as well in the service and it is so beautiful. We make the Christingles in the service itself, and interweave the baptism liturgy with Christingle liturgy ending by the crib, presenting the baptism candles, a sign of new life in the world, and then lighting all the Christingles from those candles and sing round the crib where life is to be revealed to the world. The main church lights go out and there we are, all those children, yet to discover the meaning of the simple stable and its guests, bathed in golden light – Lux, lux, lux, et canunt angeli molliter natum modo natum. The children would never stand still long enough for the song, and even if they did, the parents couldn’t relax while all those candles are burning so beautifully! LOL But it’s a moment to remember I can tell you.

Through December Mary and Joseph have, week by week, been making their way from the back of the church nearer to the stable. Next week I expect they’ll have reached the stable and there’ll be sheep in the fields – the coffee area ;-). Each week we add another couple of Christmas trees and a few more baubles to the church decorations. One pastor of a guest congregation complained because he had his Christmas service today and he said our decorations looked a bit ‘weak’ but the caretakers laughed and told him it wasn’t Christmas yet. We have been pulling out the stops a few at a time but come Christmas morning there’ll be a babe in the crib, lights on the trees, and I hope, you. Christmas Eve 11pm and Christmas Day 9.30am. I wish you a happy Advent for now.

Lux Arumque (light of gold) is a Latin translation of Edward Esch’s poem:


warm and heavy as pure gold

and the angels sing softly

to the new-born baby.