First a reminder that today we have a special Advent candle service to which young and old are invited to remind ourselves what Christmas is really about. We oldies will begin in a candle lit church at 4pm while the children over in the hall prepare decorations for their safety candles. (Parents don’t worry: only the adults will be able to set each other’s hair on fire!) Then after 40 minutes the children will join us for the conclusion of the service. All are welcome, including your non-Catholic friends.
Congratulations to all who contributed to the success of the Christmas Fayre which raised a magnificent £2,194.25. Well done and thank you all for your work, donations and support.
This week the church will be closed each day from Wednesday to Friday. This is to allow the bottom step of the sanctuary to be refurbished and to increase the width of the front aisle and so facilitate the distribution of Holy Communion at Christmas and on other crowded days. The increased width will also assist a swift evacuation of the church through both the side door and presbytery if such a need ever arose. The work involves removing old wooden underpinning and replacing the marble that was damaged when the altar rails were moved some years ago. It will also reveal the last section of the sanctuary’s beautiful Victorian tiles. The church will be closed for the full three days to ensure that work is completed in time for Katie Lofthouse’s wedding on Saturday but Mass will be celebrated each evening at 7.30pm.
Last year I introduced you to Olive Aid. This is a charity which helps all Palestinians who have lost their olive trees, usually their only source of income, to the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and that dreadful security wall. Olive trees are precious: just twenty trees can sustain a family for a year. Olive Aid is a self-help project run by the Catholic Bethlehem University which provides needy families with 3 year old olive saplings. Christian and Muslim alike are helped but the project particularly aims to stem the emigration of Christian families who suffer the most in the conflict. Today, Christians in Bethlehem constitute less than 15% of the population. Fifty years ago, Christians living in the birthplace of Jesus made up more than 70% of the population. You can buy a tree for £25. For details see me or go to www.oliveaid.com It is a Christmas Charity that I support and a number of parishioners contributed with me last year.