IT was good, last weekend, to again be a part of The News’ carol service.
It will also be good over the next few days to share the wonderful space that is St Mary’s Church, in Fratton, with a variety of different groups and people as we celebrate the Christmas story.
It is one of those times in the year which I look forward to.
Each group brings a different approach, or shares the story in a different style, and each one is full of moments of joy, and often laughter, and also moments of stillness and reflection.
We followed The News’ celebration with one for the District Scouting Movement.
Tonight we join with Fratton Big Local in lighting up Fratton at 6.30pm with a lantern procession along Fratton Road.
Next weekend we will welcome those who have been bereaved in the past year.
Then we will enjoy a concert by the Royal Marine School of Music, followed the next day by gathering with those who work with the homeless in our city to share with them the vouchers donated to the Churches Homeless Action Scheme.
We will also be with our local secondary and primary schools as they celebrate.
Members of the church will also be out singing carols to older people in various care settings and around the streets of Landport and at the Landport Community Centre.
Finally we will have our own traditional nine lessons and carols on December 18 at 6.30pm and our celebrations of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Sometimes it feels like we could have an Advent calendar counting down all our carol services!
But the variety is great and as we reflect on them we see that we are sharing the celebration with a wide cross-section of our community, and the different stages and challenges of life we face.
In the midst of this variety there is one constant, and that is what lies at the heart of the Christmas story – the love and peace that a child brings to the world.
The story we celebrate is not detached from our lives and experience, but lies at the heart of it.
Wherever you are, you can find a celebration near you that will give you the chance to explore this.
If you’re not sure where to go, see achristmasnearyou.org for details of your nearest carol service, or use the Twitter hashtag #JoyToTheWorld.