CANON BOB WHITE: ‘We give needy people the gift of choice’

The News' Carol Service at St Mary's Church, Fratton     'Picture: Duncan Shepherd
The News' Carol Service at St Mary's Church, Fratton 'Picture: Duncan Shepherd
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The vicar of St Mary’s Church, Fratton looks forward to a very unusual Advent calendar

This year there seems to be an even greater variety of Advent calendars – pork scratchings, gin and other themes, alongside the more traditional chocolate and pictures.

In the parish of St Mary’s in Fratton we have our own variation on the theme – it is almost like a carol calendar, with a different service most days in December.

We’ll host carol concerts, services and events, and visit schools, care homes and other settings to sing carols and share in the telling of the Christmas story.

There are probably as many opportunities to do this as there are windows in an Advent calendar!

It started with The News’ Christingle on December 3 – where it was a great pleasure to share the event with staff from this paper and, indeed, to be joined by Chipper!

The Christmas story is told at each event, but always with a slightly different style or focus.

The district scouts and their families enjoyed the carol nativity on Monday – each character in the nativity story had one line of a carol.

Our traditional carol service on Friday, December 22 at 7pm – will involve a more formal reading of the Gospel passages.

Then on Christmas Eve at 5pm our children and young people will act out the story, with a baby playing the part of Jesus.

Every year we enjoy the variety of styles and content and discover something new about the meaning at the heart of all these celebrations.

We look forward to sharing those opportunities with you and many others.

One particular service captures for us the message of Christmas.

On Friday, December 15 at midday, we will be distributing the vouchers and cards that have been donated generously by readers of The News for the homeless, vulnerable families and asylum seekers.

Those in need can spend their vouchers on a Christmas gift of their choice.

This annual initiative by Churches Homeless Action has been taken up by The News as their Comfort and Joy Christmas appeal for 2017.

This simple act, in which we give needy people the gift of choice, reminds us that Jesus was born on the margins of his society.

He experienced many of the things that those we support face and he teaches us how to share that gift of love and respect for others.

n St Mary’s Church is in Fratton Road, Fratton. For more information go to