Advent & Christmas services 2017

We thought you might like to take note of the Advent and Christmas special events and services taking place in Offham and West Malling.

West Malling Handel's Messiah 2017
Sun 3 Dec, 5.00 pm West Malling Community Choir Christmas Concert
St Mary’s, West Malling. Find out more on the WMCC website.

Wed 6 Dec, 7.00 pm West Malling Carol service
St Mary’s, West Malling
Readings and carols telling the Christmas story. This year’s service is held in conjunction with the charity Fields of Life who work in Africa. They will be talking about their work within the service and the Collection on the evening will be donated to their projects.

Sun 10 Dec, 5.00 pm Come and Sing! Handel’s Messiah
St Mary’s, West Malling
Jamie Meaders will lead a choir of over 100 people in rehearsals from 2pm onwards with anyone welcome to sign-up to ‘Come and Sing’. £10 per person. At 5pm, accompanied by soloists, strings and harpsichord, we will sing together the Christmas portion of Handel’s Messiah. Hallelujah!

Wed 13 Dec, 7.00 pm Heart of Kent Hospice Christmas Concert
St Mary’s, West Malling. Find out more on the HoKH website.

Christingle service at Offham

Offham Christingle (17 December)

Sun 17 Dec, 4.00 pm Christingle service,
St Michael’s, Offham
An afternoon candle-lit service for all the family with carols, a family-friendly talk from our Vicar and Christingles for all the children.

Tue 19 Dec, 8.00 pm Carol service
St Michael’s, Offham
An evening candle-lit service of Christmas readings and carols with guest Richard King and friends leading a special guest choir to complement the congregation’s singing!

Tue 19 Dec, 9.30 am West Malling CEP School Christmas Service
St Mary’s, West Malling

Thu 21 Dec, 7.30 pm Carols in The King’s Arms
The King’s Arms Pub, Offham
The King’s Arms play host to an evening of carol singing with the odd glass of mulled wine in three to lubricate the vocal chords!

A photo of the choir from the Carol Service at Offham, 2012

Richard King and friends,
Offham Carol Service (19 December)

Sun 24 Dec, 3.30 pm Christingle service with nativity,
St Mary’s, West Malling
Candle-lit Crib service with a Nativity play from St Mary’s Sunday School and lots of carol singing. Christingles will be distributed at the end for children. Come early to avoid disappointment. If you miss out, you may like to come to the second service at 5 p.m (see below). Often attended by families with pre-school children but all ages are welcome.

Sun 24 Dec, 5.00 pm Christingle service with nativity,
St Mary’s, West Malling
A repeat of the 3.30 p.m. service. Candle-lit Crib service with a Nativity play from St Mary’s Sunday School and lots of carol singing. Christingles will be distributed at the end for children. Doors will not open until after 4.30 p.m. when the previous service concludes. Often attended by families with primary-age children but all ages are welcome.

Sun 24 Dec, 11.15 pm Midnight Communion
St Mary’s, West Malling
The first service of Christmas Day is a traditional Midnight Mass with Carols and Holy Communion.

Mon 25 Dec, 8.00 am Holy Communion (BCP)
St Mary’s, West Malling
Traditional language, reflective and quiet Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion service.

A photo of the Nativity play from St Mary's, 2012

Christingle with Nativity, West Malling
(Christmas Eve)

Mon 25 Dec, 9.15 am All-Age Communion service
St Michael’s, Offham
Child-friendly Eucharist service to celebrate Christmas Day.

Mon 25 Dec, 10.00 am All-Age Communion service
St Mary’s, West Malling
Child-friendly Eucharist service to celebrate Christmas Day.

Sun 7 Jan, 7.30 pm Baptism of Christ service for the Malling Cluster
St Dunstan’s, West Peckham.
The five churches of Offham, Kings Hill, West Malling, West Peckham and Mereworth gather on the Epiphany/Baptism of Christ weekend to mark the end of the Christmas celebration.

Advent: trust the process

A photo of Nick Saban in action coaching.Nick Saban is recognized as one of the best coaches in university American Football. He has won five national championships. In his career, his teams have won nearly 80% of the games he has coached; a great record.

His defining and highly successful philosophy is what he calls “The Process”. Instead of asking his players to focus on winning the next game, he asks them to focus on what the next action is. The next drill. The next play. To Saban, it’s not the outcome that’s important, it’s the “process”.

In his own words:

“We try to define the standard that we want everybody to work toward, adhere to, and do on a consistent basis… being responsible for your own self-determination, having a positive attitude, having great work ethic, having discipline to be able to execute on a consistent basis, whatever it is you’re trying to do, those are the things that we try to focus on, and we don’t try to focus as much on outcomes as we do on being all you can be.”

Saban has recovered something that I think our nation has sadly lost, and that loss is never more apparent in the UK than in the run-up to Christmas. To our considerable detriment, we have become all about the end goal.

We all have goals. We want to write a novel, go on a diet and lose a stone, become an entrepreneur, retire early, have children. Sometimes the goals are easier to realise – we want to celebrate a lovely Christmas with family and friends, sparkly lights, turkey and trimmings, fizz and maybe a Carol or two.

But if we live life from goal to goal, we can fall into the trap of only being happy when we reach that desired end. If all you want is a wife, it feels ‘less than’ until you get what you want. Romance, getting to know one another, enjoying the friendship? Love is cheapened and we treat it cheaply.

Sometimes our goals aren’t within our control. I can’t make someone publish my book. If the outcome doesn’t meet my expectation, if I’m all about the goal, I will feel disappointed. I end up either aiming for things I know I can guarantee (so I am never disappointed) or I don’t try at all.

Sometimes we aim arbitrarily. We want to lose a stone, and then get disappointed when we only lose 9 pounds. We are robbed of the joy which should have been ours.

But if we focus instead on the “Process”, we get to enjoy the journey. Furthermore, if and when the goal is reached, there isn’t an enormous anti-climax because it was never entirely about the goal anyway.

So ignore Christmas Lights in November, John Lewis TV adverts and Black Friday deals. Eliminate the clutter! Embrace Advent! Welcome the “Process”! Prepare in that traditional and ancient sense that our forebears understood and we have lost.

Christmas will come. It starts on the 25th of December. But the message of Advent and one that will serve you well with your New Year Resolutions too, is that it is the journey that matters. Don’t fret for end results. Enjoy your Advent and, when it comes, may “the Process” bring you greater blessing this Christmas!

Rev David Green

An unexpected Christmas

With congratulations to the children and grown-ups at St Paul’s Church, Auckland in New Zealand for their fabulous work. We wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year with this lovely interpretation of the Christmas Nativity story.